The Impact of Stress on Indoor Pets

It has been well established that there is an important link between mental health and overall healthcat looking out a window and well-being of people.  Avoiding stress plays a critical role in the general welfare of people.  It should not be surprising that the same can be said for dogs and cats.  Poor mental health in dogs and cats often lead to behavioral problems such as house soiling or aggression that may lead to animals being relinquished, abandoned, or euthanized.  Although it may not be easily apparent, poor mental health can result in the development of disease conditions and a poor quality of life for the pet.  Owners can best avoid problems by understanding the normal behavior and general needs of their dog and cat.  In doing so, owners can provide the best preventative and therapeutic care for their pet.

General guidelines for the well being of indoor pets

An important need for the well being of children is a predictable daily routine, predictable consequences and environmental enrichment.  When parents provide these things to their children, children are less likely to develop behavioral problems as they feel they have more control of their lives and circumstances.  It should not come as a surprise that the same holds true for indoor pets.  Daily routine for indoor pets include feeding, elimination, social play and environmental exploration, and sleep or periods of rest.  These needs vary depending on the breed and age of the animal, as well as the household itself.  By making these basic needs regular and predictable events, the indoor pet gains some sense of control and therefore less stress in knowing how these basic needs will be met.

The Indoor Pet Initiative

An excellent website on environmental issues for dogs and cats is available for veterinarians and pet owners, called the Indoor Pet Initiative .  It was created by The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine with the purpose of providing information that describes the basic physical and behavioral needs of dogs and cats.  It also provides basic recommendations for dealing with common behavioral problems and resources for help in addressing more severe or dangerous behavioral issues.  Being aware of and understanding normal companion animal behavior and needs will help improve the quality of life of your pet dog or cat.  One of the main goals of the Indoor Pet Initiative is to improve the quality of life of indoor pets by increasing knowledge and awareness of normal companion animal behavior and needs.

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Dr Stephen Atwater

Stephen W. Atwater, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology) is a board-certified veterinary oncology specialist. His professional interests include utilizing emerging therapies for difficult to treat cancers.

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