Let's Talk to Animals

Is your pet really anxious? Three alternate explanations for anxious pet behavior

August 09, 2023 Shannon Cutts Season 4 Episode 17
Let's Talk to Animals
Is your pet really anxious? Three alternate explanations for anxious pet behavior
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Pet anxiety is on the upswing. As the world we share with our animal companions gets louder, brighter, more unrelenting in every sensory way, human animals are not the only ones who may act out due to rampant feelings of anxiety!

But is that anxious behavior you are seeing in your pet truly because of anxiety? Could there be other factors contributing to what you are labeling as pet anxiety?

In this episode, animal communicator Shannon Cutts shares stories from her recent client files to explain how simply calling anxious-appearing behaviors "pet anxiety" may cause us to miss the bigger picture of what is going on with our animal.

This episode focuses on three commonly overlooked pet issues that can masquerade as anxiety, trigger anxiety or lead to anxiety. You will also learn more about a genetic temperament trait that affects up to 20 percent of all pets - high sensitivity - and how this trait interacts with anxiety in affected pets.

Learn more and request Shannon's free Highly Sensitive Pet Help Guide at https://animallovelanguages.com/ 

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to let's Talk to Animals. My name is Shannon Kutz. I am an animal, intuitive and sensitive, and this little puff ball, fluff ball is petal cuts. She is my now six month old, precious and perfect feathered sidekick. And here on let's Talk to Animals, we are truly a podcast for all species. Everybody is invited to the party and we tackle different topics in every single episode and we've covered the spectrum from dietary health to energy work, to how animal communication happens, who can do it? And today I want to share some insights from a recent spate of clients that I've had who are really struggling with their pet's anxiety. We live in anxious times. We are all struggling with anxiety, regardless of species and because we share our lives with one another. If one member of the family is anxious, the ripple effect tends to be that anxiety is amplified in the other family members as well. I tend to find that my animal communication client load comes in waves. Sometimes I will have a whole series of clients who are working their way through end of life or transition issues. Then I'll have a number of clients come through who are seeking to reconnect with their pet and spirit or maybe call their animal back into their life through pet reincarnation into a new body, and right now I'm experiencing a rather high number of clients who are coming to me saying I feel like my pet is really anxious and can't relax. There's all kinds of ways to look at the energy that presents as possible anxiety. One of the ways to look at that energy is yes, it's anxiety, absolutely it walks like anxiety, it talks like anxiety. It's anxiety. But there are also a number of other interpretations that we can take a look at and, rather than try these interpretations on for size on our own, consulting our left brain, mind and kind of turning ourselves into a think tank of one to try to figure out what's going on with our animal, I found that the best way to figure out what's going on really, what's really happening inside that animal skin, is to ask the animal directly. That's what I do, that's the work I do as an animal communicator. I'm able to talk with all species and receive information that I can then decode and translate, put into words and share with other human animals, members of my own species, and so if that's of interest to you, please do consider having a chat with your own animal love, consider possibly scheduling a session. Would be my honor and my joy. But today let's really focus in on pet anxiety, or what looks like pet anxiety. So the first thing I want to take a look at is we have a natural empathy as a human animal, to where we have the ability very unsung ability, very underrated ability you have the ability to project ourselves into another being's experience of life. In fact, that's the definition of empathy is to be able to feel and sense what another being is feeling and sensing, without knowing how or why it happens. It simply happens when we're looking at an animal who appears to be acting anxiously. Maybe they have a high energy level, or maybe they have a very low energy level. Maybe they are exhibiting behavior changes throughout the day, maybe they are interacting differently with other family members, with other animals that they know, with their diet or with their regular schedule. There are all kinds of cues that we may recognize as possibly pointing to anxiety, and most of the time it's because we've experienced those same cues and labeled them as anxiety in our own lives. So, for instance, when I'm very anxious, I change my eating habits. I'm not as hungry. Some people get more hungry. I'm not as hungry when I'm very anxious. I tend to have disturbed sleep and I maybe even sleep more at different times of day than would be normal because I can't sleep during the regularly scheduled sleep hours at night. So my schedule shifts, maybe my energy changes. A lot of times when I'm anxious I find that I talk faster or that I am less likely to seek out help. So I kind of keep to myself and trying to kind of reign in my energy so that it won't impact others in a negative way. So these are some ways in which I might project how I experience anxiety onto one of my own animal family members and say well, I do that when I'm anxious. Therefore, since they're doing something similar, that must mean they're anxious too, and it could mean something completely different. Obviously, the only way to know for sure is to ask. But the very first step is actually to just take off our anxiety glasses for a moment and just put on a pair of glasses with clear lenses and get curious and wonder and think well, I'm not going to label that as anxiety just yet. I'm just going to get curious and see what could it be and just feel if anything rises up. Here's a really good example from a recent client that I talked with, who came to me saying my dog is just acting really, really anxious, and especially around a certain time of day, it just feels like his anxiety really spikes. When I talked to her dog, he told me it's not anxiety, it's anticipation. I'm excited. And the analogy he gave me which is really funny because I'm about as far away from an Olympic athlete as you can imagine but the analogy he used is when you're an athlete and you get up to the starting line and you're running a race or you're going to do a swimming event or something like that, and you have this heightened energy in your body and you can either let it get to you and make you anxious or you can harness it as rocket fuel and allow it to work for you and propel you forward. And he's saying, yes, I am more intense, yes, I am more energetic, but it's excitement and anticipation, not anxiety. So that's one way to look at it. Now, this particular animal also had a number of other interesting things to share about the behavior that his person was interpreting as anxiety, and I want to just stop for a moment and say kudos to this dog's human for caring so much and for being willing to pull out all the stops to make sure that her sweetheart, her soul dog is okay, is feeling good, is getting his needs met. There's never any shame or self-judgment implied when we're talking about what we think our animal is going through versus what our animal tells us is actually happening. The most important thing is to tune in and go. I want to understand this better. I want to amp up my empathy ability or really tune into my empathy, what I call the empathy channel, the inner species empathy channel, to really take a walk in their paws or their claws or their wings, to really feel and sense what they're feeling and sensing, so that if there's anything I can do to make their life even more wonderful, I want to know and do it. So if you're listening to this, if you're watching this right now, don't worry about oh, did I mislabel it or am I understanding it quickly. Just recognize yourself for the loving, caring, empathic soul that you are and I just want to say your animal is so lucky to have you. So just know that. Just first and foremost, I had another animal client whose human came to me and said my dog seems really, really anxious and doesn't seem that enthusiastic about their food and is kind of picky and doesn't seem to really want to eat. Most animals love their food and they look forward to meal times, and my dog just really isn't. I don't know what's going on and I just I'm wondering if that shift that I'm seeing is because he's feeling anxious, and so of course that's another one. We just talked about that. Sometimes we change our relationship to how we eat, how much we eat, what we eat when we're feeling anxious, so if we do it, of course our animals may do it as well. Now, what this dog showed me was that his diet wasn't agreeing with him, and we're not going to talk about kibble-based diets on this particular podcast episode, and I'm not technically qualified. I would point you in the direction of some of my podcast guests, like the pet parenting reset or Dr Judy Morgan, who are much more qualified to guide you through a diet transition. But it just so happens that this dog was eating a pure kibble diet and showed me that he had some kind of stuck energy in his kidneys and in his lymphatic system because it was so hard for his body to break his food down and get the nutrients out of it and because he really was taking in insufficient hydration to help his body really use the kibble, what he could get out of the nutrition he could get out of the kibble to the maximum benefit. And so his body was like, literally his physical mechanism was just a little sluggish and it was manifesting. Of course, he wasn't that excited about his food and he wasn't really eating enough and it was kind of interfering with how his body was naturally wired to work. The whys of that, and whether you believe in kibble diet or raw diet or something in between, that is a topic for a whole other podcast episode and probably a different presenter. But this is just what he told me. As an animal communicator, I'm not an expert in the dietary needs of different species. I'm not an expert in the physical organism and how it's meant to work. What I'm an expert in is having a conversation with an animal to ask for them to share their perspective what's going on with them in their life, how are they feeling, what's working, what's not working. Share that information with their human so that that human can then take next steps. Go consult a holistic veterinarian. Go talk with an energy healer, go and work with a behavior consultant or an end of life doler. Whatever needs to happen next. With good information we can then make much better decisions on behalf of our animals, the pets that we love. So that's my role. I'm the first person to say run, don't walk to the veterinarian or the holistic veterinarian, behaviorist or the healer. Go find the right expert with the right credentials to take those next steps based on the information that your animal gives you. That in itself can be a whole conversation. There's another example of how an animal's life experience may not really have anything to do with anxiety per se. It's certainly not an environmental or emotional anxiety. There's an argument to be made that there can be a literal, chemical anxiety, a physical anxiety, when you're having indigestion, when your body's not able to use your food very well, when you're not able to digest it and eliminate and just do all those wonderful things that we tend to take for granted that our bodies just kind of do autonomically for us. We could say, yeah, there's a little bit of physical, systemic anxiety going on in the biological organism, absolutely. But then we can take those next steps based on the information, to go and see okay, maybe I'd take a make a dietary adjustment, and see if the behavior change that I've been witnessing then resolves itself. Another example of what can appear to be anxiety is this is my passion point and this is one of my specialties is the highly sensitive temperament trait. This is a genetic temperament trait. Researchers have traced it to over 100 species, including our own, the homo sapien. Definitely with dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, fish. Highly sensitive animals of any species have a trait that is evolutionarily advantageous under certain types of environmental conditions, and what that means in plain English is that if 80% of the population, of the species population, behaves one way when, let's say, a natural disaster occurs, and 20% behaves a different way, then there's a greater chance that that animal population will survive the disaster. So let's say there's a forest fire and 80% of the gophers run underground and that turns out to be the wrong behavior, because the fire overtakes them and they all perish. Well, the 20% that's highly sensitive might choose to run in a different direction and because they didn't follow the 80% that's not got the highly sensitive personality trait, they survive and the species continues. So that's a very extreme example of how the highly sensitive personality trait can work, how it developed most likely, and why it's a good thing that we have it. But highly sensitive just the term highly sensitive. This doesn't mean quick to take offense, it doesn't mean they've got a thin skin. It means they are highly attuned to their environment. They're highly aware. Sensitivity, in this case indicates sensory awareness and alertness. Finally, tuned ability to pick up subtle changes in the environment, subtle nuances, shifts in the personalities surrounding them and the environment surrounding them. And this can mean that the world, not their relationships, even their own bodies, can feel overwhelming at times and just too much, too loud, too close, too bright, too everything all at once. And they tend to need more downtime. They tend to need more alone time. They tend to seek out natural environments. If you see a dog or a cat just laying down on the lawn for a while and just kind of grounding with the earth and attuning their body to the magnetic frequency of the earth, this is a way of off-gassing, of detoxifying from some of the impact of what's going on around them in their daily life. And so a highly sensitive pet can have this trait. It's a genetic trait, it's a heritable genetic trait. They don't develop it. It can be influenced by environment. So there's the argument for nature, which is the genetics, and the nurture, which is the environment. A highly sensitive animal that's repeatedly subjected to highly intense or negative experiences may become even more sensitized, even more reluctant to engage with life in the world, even more withdrawn or self-protective as a result of that. However, the highly sensitive trait can also provide an animal with a more extreme adaptability to come out of trauma, to come out of difficult environments and actually turn around and thrive. So there's a lot to love about this trait. But if you don't know that your animal is highly sensitive, you don't know that they have the personality trait, especially if you've had many different animals all the same breed or the same species and they haven't had the highly sensitive trait. When you encounter a highly sensitive pet for the first time, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that they're just really really anxious all the time. But light stimulates them more, sounds stimulates them more and it may not be anything that they can do anything about. Like a non highly sensitive pet may in time become acclimated to cars backfiring or fireworks popping or the sound of the booming bass of the stereo or bright party lights or crowds of their own kind or of our kind or a mix. The highly sensitive pet probably is never really going to acclimate to those things. They're rather going to develop a set of coping strategies designed to keep them at a safe distance If that means they become aggressive towards strangers, or they run under the bed, won't come out when there's a fireworks display or there's a thunderstorm, or they don't want to leave the house when it's very cold or very hot. It's them trying to cope and adapt so that their highly sensitive nature doesn't get overstimulated again and again and again, because if this continues to happen and they cannot get away and there's nothing that they try that works, then what we've got is an overabundance of cortisol in the system. Cortisol is the stress hormone. It's called the silent killer for a reason. So then we've got an animal that's increasingly just bathing in their own toxic cortisol, and all kinds of health problems can result in things like that. So a highly sensitive pet, and I've got a lot more resources about highly sensitive pet on my website. I've written about it in my blog and podcast episode about it. I've got a help guide that you can access. It's got a whole bunch of resources. It's something that's not really all that well known among pet parents and animal guardians and it's really still emerging science, and the human species as well, and so there's so much more to learn. In fact, if you're resonating with some of what I've described, you might be highly sensitive yourself. I am this little girl is and I've parented several highly sensitive animals over the decades, and they do act differently, and it can be all too easy to label what you're seeing as anxiety, and it could also be that that's true. Highly sensitive beings of any species are more prone to experience any kind of emotional reaction or state more intensely, and anxiety is no exception. So if a highly sensitive animal is anxious, they are probably going to appear more anxious than a non highly sensitive animal would appear if they were experiencing the same degree of anxiety. So those are, those are three of the top triggers that I have seen, or behavior sets that I've seen being highly energetic or anticipatory, being physically off in some way, maybe with diet, maybe with hydration, maybe with pain, maybe with something else going on in their physical body. That's leading to behavior that looks like anxiety, and the high sensitivity trait, which is one of the most common misinterpretations for pet anxiety. And there are many, many more, but that's what I wanted to highlight for you today, because I have seen so much of this over the last few weeks in my own animal communication client practice and I hope that these insights and these tips may be helpful to you, especially if you're worried about your own pet or an animal that you've rescued or that you're fostering or caring for the animals that you work with. Maybe just play around with taking off that anxiety filter for a moment and putting on a set of clear glasses and asking yourself what else might be driving this behavior that I'm seeing. Is it truly anxiety? Could anxiety be a facet of something greater, something bigger? Is it something else entirely? And then, rather than try to think your way through with your left brain, your left brain has this severe that's so logical and analytical and really thinks it has all the answers, because that's kind of how it's designed to work to keep us alive Go into your right brain. Play around with. What do you feel, what do you sense? If you didn't know the answer, what might you feel or sense is the underlying reason for this behavior shift that you're seeing? And if you have any aha moments, I would love to hear about them. So drop a comment or send me a DM on social media, or you can email me and let me know, shannon at animallovelanguagescom. I'd love to hear what you come up with and what you're learning as you get to know your animal better. Ok, so stay tuned. We're doing fresh new episodes every two weeks here in season four, let's talk to animals, and I am so glad to connect with you this way. If you are enjoying let's talk to animals, be sure to check out seasons one, two and three if you haven't already, and leave a like, leave a comment, download. Downloads really, really help us in terms of being able to reach more people. And just know that I'm grateful for your listening ears and your viewing eyes and your love for your pets and sending you all my love. Ok, bye for now.

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