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Let's talk about Mental Health

Today is World Time to Talk Day

The day aims to help people open up and be honest about mental health, without the fear and stigma often attached to the topic.

Did you know that your fur kid can have some mental health issues? I touch on this topic in the article Back to Work. Just like us, or furry family members can develop mental health issues. Sometimes it is due to a former bad living situation, sometimes it can be due to stress in your household. For some animals there are triggers. Out dog Coal was afraid of thunder.

Photo credit This Dog

Cats are naturally averse to sudden loud noises. We used to have a driveway monitor that would set off a buzzer in our house when someone was approaching. The monitor was somewhat sensitive and could be triggered by a strong gust of wind. We also live in a rural area, so wildlife who were tall enough to be picked up by the motion sensor would also trigger the buzz. It didn’t take long for out cats to associate the buzz with stranger danger even when there was none. We eventually had to disable it because our cats were living on high alert all the time. If your cat's eyes are always dilated, it is a sure sign of stress.

Our Buddy does not like to be picked up for any reason. He doesn’t mind being weighed but he hates to be put on the scale. There is one place he always goes when he thinks he is going to be picked up. He hides under my husband’s side table next to his recliner. He knows we won’t try to get him out from under there because it could cause an avalanche of papers. Sometimes you just have to be smarter than your cat.

If you have a household with multiple animals, one of them is bound to be singled out as a target of aggression. It might be because the other cats sense weakness in that one, they may have been to the vet and smell funny, or they may have an illness that may or may not have been diagnosed. If your animals are all near the same age, they could be vying for top of the pecking order.

Whatever issues your fur kid may have there are many strategies, and when very necessary meds that can help. For Coal our thunder dog, we learned that comforting him during his time of fear only re-enforced it. He eventually found a spot in the house that was not on my husband’s lap. We also got him a thunder shirt which actually did help. The feeling of compression like a baby being swaddled, helps to sooth fear. There are now many wholistic approaches to fear and anxiety that many veterinary offices are now offering.

If you think your fur kid has an emotional or mental issue that needs help, please speak to your veterinarian. And remember, your patience with you fur kid can go a long way.

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