How to know if your dog or cat is stressed

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How to know if your dog or cat is stressed

Like humans, animals can become stressed too. It’s important to recognise the signs as you want your furry friend to be happy and relaxed.





If it’s not a warm day and you dog hasn’t done any excessive exercise, it may be an indication of stress. This may mean your dog is anxious or confused, so as a pet owner it is important to identify any triggers that may be causing this behaviour and also to speak to them in a soothing, reassuring tone being mindful to not over-excite them. 


Barking that is out of character for your dog, such as shrill, constant barking may be an indication of stress. It's important to mitigate this behaviour by removing them from the situation to an area that is secure and secluded from any threats or loud noises. 

Eyes and ears

If you notice your dogs eyes open wider than usual, where the whites of their eyes are more visible, or their ears are pinned back and tensed it may be an indication of stress. Also if they are blinking excessively or their pupils are dilated, it may be important to note.

Hiding and Avoidance

If your dog is usually excited to see you when you come home, and you notice a change in behaviour such as hiding from you or being unresponsive, it may be a sign of stress, as they are preoccupied with feelings of anxiousness or worry. 

Shedding or shaking

Shedding more fur than normal is an indication of stress, however, you have to pay attention to this over a longer period of time, as it doesn’t happen instantly. Also, if your dog is shaking more than usual and is exhibiting other symptoms of stress, it may be good to 

Destroying furniture 

If your dog is well trained and past the puppy stage and you come home to all your furniture chewed up and destroyed, it may be a sign of stress. Generally, when dogs exhibit out of character behaviour that they do not normally engage in, it is advised that you look into it further to uncover the triggers.



Aggression in cats may be mistaken for playful behaviour, however, it is not normal for your cat to exhibit aggressive or predatory behaviour during play. If you cat is exhibiting signs of aggression is important to reflect on your behaviour as the owner, and to recognise what behaviour you have encouraged and normalised during your interactions. More often than not, it is the owner’s behaviour that has enabled their cat to be aggressive, however, if you are certain that this behaviour is out of character, you should consult your vet to find out if there is any underlying issues.

Over stimulation or rough play

It goes without saying that over stimulation and rough play should always be avoided, however, it's also important to recognise if your smothering your cat with too much love. If you notice your cat become suddenly violent after being close to them, it may be an indication that they need their space. Most importantly, you set the tone for how you cat behaviours, so pay attention to their actions and don’t encourage bad behaviour.


If your cat is in a position where it becomes aggressive due to fear, it is important to understand that this occurs if the cat feels trapped. Therefore, it’s important to not smother them or try to restrict them in these instances, as it can be extremely dangerous. It is normal for your cat to exhibit this type of aggression if they are feeling threatened, for instance if they are at the vet, however, if it is occuring 

Separation Aggression

This occurs when other pets or family members leave the house for extended periods of time, which may result in your cat not recognising other family members. This is especially the case for other animal companion that have spent time at the vet or the groomers, as they may have a slight change in smell, which might mean that your cat views them as an intruder or threat. 


It’s common for cats to display symptoms of stress in the form of aggression, as they may feel threatened or anxious. This may occur if there are new people or pets in the household, if you’ve moved houses, a change in diet or they’re not getting enough play or exercise. 

It’s important to recognise the symptoms of aggression and predatory behaviour in cats as a symptom of a bigger issue that needs to be identified and addressed.