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Irritable Dogs / Irritable Cats / Irritable Pets

Irritability in Dogs and Cats

Herbal remedies to help relieve irritability and soothe anxious dogs and cats.

Animals routinely experience irregularities in bodily systems, including the Central and Autonomic Nervous systems, requiring a correction to restore emotional balance, to promote relaxation and reduce nervousness and to balance mood and provide feelings of comfort and security.

Many dogs and cats experience emotional distress for a variety of reasons, including environmental and situational stressors such as traveling, boarding, daycare, vet and grooming visits, introduction into a new home, loss of a family member or family pet, separation from owners, visiting guests, transitional or traumatic events, competitive events, abuse, an inappropriate diet (one which contains processed foods including corn, wheat, soy or other fillers) and general anxiety that is commonly experienced that includes irregular behaviors manifest as urine marking, excessive scratching, panting, trembling or shivering.

While every animal copes daily with a certain amount of stress, (keeping them alert) irritability can affect both an animal’s psychological and physical well being since an animal cannot vocalize their stress, or use coping mechanisms to understand that the stress will eventually pass.

Anxiety and irritability in pets is a very common problem, representing one of the top reasons for veterinary visits. Animals can experience irritability when left alone for long periods of time, lack social contact, are confined to small spaces, experience boredom or are ill. Our animals can also detect our moods and feelings and mimic our behaviors. Just like humans, with prolonged exposure to stress, your pet can develop an anxiety disorder.

Irritability can have serious physical consequences on an animal. Stress takes its toll on the immune system and studies have shown that people under more stress are more likely to get sick. The same may be true for our animals.

When an animal gets irritated, stress messages are sent to various organs in the body to produce certain results. The heart quickens, a dog or cat may begin to pant, quiver and shake; their eyes may glaze over and they may appear aggressive or fearful. It is especially dangerous for a pet, as animals have been known to resort to desperate measures (jumping out of windows during a thunderstorm), striking or lunging from aggressive, or attempting to flee from perceived danger.

Health problems related to stress may include cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease aggravated by stress. Stress may also play a role in speeding up the progress of certain cancers and disorders in the animal body.

As is the case in humans - other health problems associated with stress include diabetes, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, memory loss, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, infertility, skin and coat problems, muscle tension and fatigue.

As your pet cannot vocalize their stress and anxiety, it is a good idea to monitor your pet’s behavior in certain situations. Stressed animals will usually change behavior suddenly such as panting, pacing, or licking at themselves as a coping mechanism.

Animals that are constantly over threshhold in terms of stress may pull out their fur or feathers, or engage in ritualistic behavior in an attempt to calm their nerves. If your pet stops eating, or has a drastic change in bowel movements (diarrhea) it may be a sign that their stress needs to be managed.

For a household pet stress may be caused by multiple factors. A pet may get stressed by a new person in the home, an addition to the family (a new baby), fireworks, thunder storms, moving house, a stay in a kennel, unfamiliar surroundings, a visit to the vet or worst of all - getting out of the property and becoming lost. Certain breeds are also susceptible to hereditary stress disorders.

Some pet owners are surprised to learn that pets are sensitive to changes in their environments and the same factors that stress humans affect animals, including:

Separation anxiety (from owner or another pet)

Addition to family (baby, spouse, another animal, visiting guests)

A new home, relocation, boarding, kenneling


Poor nutrition (diet which contains processed foods including corn, wheat, soy, meat by product, other fillers, preservatives and additives)

Change of owner

Grooming or vet visits

Emotional stress: abuse, fear, traumatic event, genetic nervous temperament, death of a family member or pet companion, jealousy or rivalry, stress and poor health

Change in daily routine

Crowds, small groups of people and small children


Noises, pressure or phobias: thunder, lightning, fireworks, sirens, loud parties, dryers, vacuum cleaner

The most common anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, noise phobias and social anxiety include:Separation anxiety is one of the most common anxiety disorders and typically occurs when pets are left alone and separated from their owners. Destructive behavior such as continuous barking and whining, chewed furniture, scratching of doors or soiled floors may be exhibited when the pet is left alone.

Noise phobia occurs when pets are fearful of loud noises such as thunderstorms, firecrackers, gunshots, sound of birds, a vacuum cleaner or a hairdryer. Often, when animals are frightened by loud noises they may run and hide to a safer haven. In trying to escape, they may endanger themselves by jumping through windows, digging or running away. Other signs of fear that may be displayed include excessive barking, meowing, drooling, trembling, chewing, urinating or defecating.

Social anxiety most often occurs when pets have not been socialized at an early age. Pets that have not been socialized are fearful and overwhelmed by crowds, small groups of people as well as other animals. When the pet becomes anxious, he may feel trapped and cornered which in turn causes him to react aggressively or run to a safe retreat.

Excessive barking


Whining and moaning

Trembling or shivering

Drooling and panting


Poor appetite

Licking or chewing of skin

Hyperactivity or excitability

Pacing or chewing furniture

Soiling the house or tearing up household items in your absence

Mutilating plants

Scratching at windows and doors

Following owner from room to room and sulking or hiding when an owner is getting ready to leave the house

An abnormally enthusiastic greeting upon the owners return

Meowing or barking after the owner has left

Urination or defecation near a door or on the owner's personal items

Vomiting only when the owner is not there

Excessive grooming, to the point of creating a bald spot on one or two areas of the body

Helpful Suggestions:

Dogs and cats can become very anxious and distressed during a lightning storm or when fireworks are let off nearby. If your pet becomes distressed, try not to fuss too much, as this may be interpreted as attention, possibly triggering further anxiety in the future. Stay calm and provide your pet with the necessary tools to cope. This may include a ‘den’ for them (empty cabinet or space under the bed with a blanket and favorite toys) as dogs and cats will seek a hiding place and shelter when there is a perceived ‘danger.’ 

Get your pets moving. Exercise helps keep your animal physically active which helps relieve stress. Regular exercise helps burn up stress-related hormones such as adrenaline while releasing happiness-inducing endorphins!

Feed healthily. A balanced diet will energize your pet’s body and help him or her to cope better with stressful situations. Important nutrients for stress relief include Vitamin B, calcium and magnesium which can be found in veggies.

Herbal Remedies:

Herbal remedies may help promote a calm and relaxed state, help soothe stress, fear and nervous anxiety during stressful situations & everyday disturbances, help address the sudden and immediate symptoms of stress, such as quivering and panting, help relieve the anxiety and tension related to stress, help cope with anxiety and nervousness by working on a variety of bodily systems to provide whole systemic support, relaxing the Central and Autonomic Nervous Systems, allowing your animal to distinguish between a safe vs. fearful situation.

Soothed & Serene  – (learn more) is used to relax and calm all bodily systems of an anxious animal, particularly the Central, Autonomic, Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems, as well as for its positive effects to relax the endocrine, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory & respiratory systems; used holistically to help soothe animals exhibiting all types of  destructive behavior due to anxiety, fear, grief, separation, pain, illness, allergies, aggression, socialization issues, electrical and thunder storms due to its calming, mildly sedative, nervine effects and alternative to benzodiazepine drugs; as a nutritive to help bridge nutritional deficiencies and relieve irregularity in bodily systems;  helps restore emotional balance, promotes comfort, relaxation, balanced mood and feelings of security; helps protect the blood brain barrier, important in preventing plaque buildup in the brain related to cognitive decline and as a stroke preventative. 

Serenity Zen Dog & Cat - (learn more) is used for its multi-level nutritional and adaptogen plant botanical support to help identify stress triggers in all body systems and to nutritionally help soothe, relax, calm, balance and provide pain relief to nerves and muscles (related to the Adrenal, Cardiovascular, Digestive, Excretory, Respiratory, Autonomic and Central Nervous Systems); may be useful for separation, stress, anxiety and behavioral disorders; may be helpful in reducing the effects of digestive colic, and stress and anxiety related to storms, fireworks, travel, boarding, vet visits, separation, new home due to adoption, travel, motion sickness, restlessness, irritability, depression, hyper-excitability, aggression, allergies sadness and fear; help address and reduce pain; help maintain normal electrical balance in the brain, to reduce neuro inflammation,  and to help modulate inflammatory response throughout the animal body.

Serenity Zen Meal Topper – (learn more)  is used holistically for its nutritional content to help carry out a read/repair and restore function for imbalance in the body systems; may help relax and calm an anxious, stressed dog or cat due to its calming, mildly sedative and nervine effects which may help relax the Central Nervous, autonomic, sympathetic ("fight or flight"), somatic and parasympathetic ("rest and digest") nervous systems; may help relieve stress triggers in the animal body and its natural plant based tonic actions may help bring all body systems into balance by helping promote feelings of comfort, security and relaxation by soothing the brain, relaxing muscles, and normalizing heart rate and blood pressure; may help reduce general stress and anxiety as well as behavioral responses related to introduction to a new home or family; adaptogen and nutritional content may help reduce restlessness, separation anxiety, stress, panting, whimpering, pacing, panic attacks and depression by cooling stress related protein and excess cortisol production in the body and may help reduce anxiety and fear related to vet, grooming and boarding visits, thunder and lightning storms and fireworks and loud noises; nutritional content may help reduce motion and car sickness commonly experienced by dogs and cats; may help diminish destructive behaviors such as aggression or urine marking; adaptogen content may help relax and soothe the adrenal, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory & respiratory systems, helping to nutritionally and adaptogen content helps support balance in all bodily systems when your pet is anxious or stressed; suitable for all life stages of dogs and cats.

Anxiety Starter Pack for Dogs and Cats – (learn more) is a convenient and easy way to help relax anxious, stress or homesick pets, containing natural, organic super foods, herbs and adaptogens which help to nutritionally soothe anxious, stressed and homesick dogs and cats by helping relax the Central Nervous, autonomic, sympathetic, somatic & parasympathetic nervous systems; helps to relax stress triggers related to the adrenal, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory, muscular & respiratory systems, for whole body balance; is mildly nervine & sedative; it does not drug your pet but helps relax muscles, lowers blood pressure & promotes feelings of security and helps reduce separation anxiety; may be useful for short term and episodic stress and anxiety related to travel, storms, vet and grooming visits, adoption, pain and much more; is a natural tonic, which helps to strengthen all body systems & works to nutritionally help restore emotional and immune balance.



Conventional Remedies:

There is a lot that can be done to help your pet cope. The most important thing is to try and identify what may be causing your pet to stress, so that you can make changes to avoid the upset in future.

The solution may be as simple as closing the drapes when there is a storm, or giving your pet a treat when he or she is visiting the vet. In other cases, it may be more serious and require treatment or advice from an animal behaviorist or veterinarian.

The common conventional treatments for stressed animals include tranquilizer-like medications – such as Fluoxetine (Prozac, Reconcile) - but these drugs may be unsuitable for pets with weakened hearts or other conditions and may be accompanied by side effects.





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