Overstressed Pets

Stress is something we humans deal with every day. But let’s stop and think about our pets.  Do they have stress in their lives? If so, what types of stress do they deal with?  There’s a quote that goes: Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can’t eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away. Unfortunately, most of our pets are more sensitive to stress than we realize. For proof, just read the following story about a dog named Buffy:

Buffy The Dog

About three years ago, I moved in with my daughter and her three dogs. I had three dogs of my own at the time. Needless to say, with six dogs and two teenagers our house was never boring, and at times it was chaotic. Sadly, it took a toll on our blind seven-year-old, Buffy. She started to hide behind the couch 24/7, only to come out when it was time to go potty or to eat, then right back behind the couch she would go. She gained weight and started to bark and startle more often. Her body was tense and jumpy whenever we tried to play with her or pet her. This had gone on for over a year, and it was no way to live life. We even considered putting her down—her quality of life was horrible. How awful to live in fear all the time!!

We’ll check in with Buffy later. But for now, let’s look at how dogs and cats begin their stress-related voyage. Starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age, pets face a variety of issues, including vaccination, separation from mom and litter mates, deworming, house breaking, new homes, puppy training, etc.  I don’t know about you, but I feel stressed just thinking about the energy and struggles these little ones go through at such a young age. As our pets grow and develop, they’re exposed to the same environmental stress that we experience every day in our own lives. Bad nutrition, polluted air, water, noise, electronics, and overbreeding, to name just a few. It’s no wonder we see more diseases and illnesses today than we did 20 years ago.

I receive calls or emails weekly from veterinarians and pet owners who want to know how they can nutritionally supplement the diets of their adult patients and pets to alleviate stress-like symptoms and illness. Pets from the age of 2 to 10, and even older, deal with many types of stress that differ from puppies and kittens. So it’s important to take a closer look at the signs and symptoms of stress in our pets and how they react to it.

Ten Signs and Symptoms of Stress in the Body Language of Average Pets (read more here):
1. Panting
2. Trembling
3. Hypersalivation
4. Inappropriate elimination
5. Excessive vocalization
6. Clinging to owner
7. Aggressiveness
8. Hiding
9. Flight (running off)
10. Destructiveness

As the above list illustrates, stress can have wide-ranging effects on emotions, mood, and behavior. Equally important, but often less appreciated, are the effects of stress on various systems, organs, and tissues throughout the body. For example, stress depletes the body of vitamins A , B, C, B12, and folic acid; minerals such as zinc, sodium, iron, potassium, and chlorides; and the trace minerals manganese, copper, chromium, iodine, and selenium. The nervous system suddenly shifts its energy resources to the “fight or flight” response, and the sympathetic nervous system signals adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make the heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process, and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream. When muscles are under stress, they can tense up and cause musculoskeletal conditions.

To help our pets manage stress we need to first give their bodies nutritional support— Standard Process whole food supplements, a good grain-free or raw diet, and fresh spring water (not from the tap or hose, please). Puppies and kittens should take Canine/Feline Immune Support and Canine/Feline Whole Body Support for the first two years of life. Adult pets should continue the Whole Body Support, plus Canine Adrenal Support if they show signs of stress. Pets in sympathetic dominance will need additional products such as Organic Minerals, Min-Tran, Min-Chex, or Orchex. These mineral supplements are considered “mineral tranquilizers” or “physiologic tranquilizers.” They’re listed here in order of potency, with Organic Minerals being the least potent and Orchex the most. Give for 12 weeks, reevaluate the response, and reduce dosage or wean off as possible.

What happened to Buffy when her stress was acknowledged and treated? She had a remarkable turnaround:

One day I started Buffy on Canine Adrenal Support and Orchex. Within three days she was out and about. Hanging with the other dogs, begging at the dinner table, and sleeping in the middle of the stairs. I was amazed. She is back to her normal self. Buffy and I couldn’t be happier. It has been four months and Buffy continues to feel better. Yesterday she was playing ball outside with the big dogs. Not an easy thing for a blind dog to do, but she has the desire to live and now she is feeling better about life. I will continue to use Standard Process on Buffy and all of our dogs. —Sharron Erdmann

Stress will always be part of our lives—and part of our pets’ lives. How well we handle it depends on how well our bodies rebuild and repair after experiencing stress. Therefore, eat well, exercise, and get restful sleep. And make sure both you and your pets take your Standard Process supplements every day.

Photo at top from iStock/goldyrocks

Tracie Hoffman, VT

Tracie Hoffman is a veterinary technician with over 20 years of experience. She is able to use her knowledge of conventional veterinary approaches and her expertise in whole food nutrition to create better options for doctors and their staff. Although she is most present with Colorado Standard Process West clients, Tracie offers assistance via phone and email throughout the region. She hosts lunch and learn programs, reviews cases, provides protocols and assists clinics with start-up, client education and advertising. She has also developed a number of complementary veterinary reference aides, available from SPW. If you would like to contact Tracie, please email her at THoffman@standardprocesswest.com.

Related Topics

pet nutrition | whole food pet supplements

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