Are YOU stressing out your pets?

You might not realize it, but if Fluffy or Skippy are listless, disobedient and getting sick all the time, chances are that your pet doesn’t have some mysterious disease – he or she may simply be stressed out.

“A lot of people think that stress is something that only affects humans, but it’s a very real threat to the health and happiness of their pets, too,” said Dr. Paul McCutcheon, a veterinarian with more than 45 years experience and co-author of The New Holistic Way for Dogs and Cats from Random House (www.newholisticway.com). “Better pet care will result when pet lovers and veterinarians understand that stress is the underlying cause of every form of health problem a dog or cat can have.”

Dr. McCutcheon believes that stress, combined with diet and other environmental concerns, can present serious – but unspecific – symptoms that can worry both the pet and the pet owner.

“It is important to distinguish between acute stress, immediate and intense, versus chronic stress, a real drag on wellness that results from a long-standing cause of stress,” he said. “The best way to support your pet’s present and future wellness is through stress prevention. Tune into the kinds of stress that affect your pet and stress-proof the ways you look after their daily needs. For instance, boredom and loneliness are probably the most damaging stress factors in a pet’s life.”