Incorporating Your Pet Into Anxiety Management

As we are all painfully aware, these unprecedented times are creating or exacerbating anxiety in many people who are not used to the social distancing and working from home that is currently necessary. If you are normally prone to anxiety, today's "new normal" is probably heightening your anxiety. If you do not experience anxiety on a regular basis, you probably have more recently.


In these times, taking distinct and meaningful action to mitigate your anxiety is paramount to maintaining holistic health - for you and your pet. As I discussed in my previous post, there is little evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted from your pet to you. This gives you another vehicle through which to cope with our new normal.


A prominent example of the coping benefits that animals can provide has been emergence of the service animal. Scientists and behavioral therapists have discovered the therapeutic effects that service dogs and other animals can have on those with various physical and mental challenges. Interactions with a pet offering unconditional love and acceptance provides a therapy that is difficult to replicate via other means. The proliferation of service animals has been evident over the past several years as, chances are, you have seen them in the stores, on airplanes, and in other venues where animals are normally not allowed.


Like humans, dogs and other pets also rely on social interaction to maintain overall health. Interactions with our dogs and cats can boost our own countenance and provides your pet with the socialization he or she needs to stay healthy. Take some time out of your day to hang out with your pet.


Exercise is also vital to combating anxiety. Despite the current environment, it is important to get out for some exercise and fresh air a few times during the day. Take your dog along with you and throw a tennis ball or just take him or her for a walk. Exercise prompts the release of seratonin in your body which lifts the spirits. It has the same effect on your dog.


Keeping a consistent structure about your day is also important. For humans, having structure to the day provides some semblance of normalcy and can calm fearful expectations of what the future might bring. The same is true for dogs. Being able to count on being fed, for example, during a particular part of the day, i.e., the morning or evening, contributes to preventing anxiety in pets. A structured walk schedule has also been found to lessen the likelihood of an anxious dog.


The big takeaway from this is that animals and humans can both benefit from some of the same anxiety behavioral adjustments and treatments. So, why not apply these tips to both you and your pet and create a more anxiety-free household?

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