True North Living » Wellness » Pet Health and Wellness » If Your Pet Has Behavioural Issues, You’re Not Alone — and There’s Help
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Dr. Colleen Wilson

Animal Behaviour Specialist & Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Stress and anxiety are incredibly common in pets, and they can lead to “bad” behaviour — but the solutions are within easy reach.


What causes fear and anxiety in companion animals? Some common answers might pop to mind: fireworks and thunderstorms, separation anxiety, travelling, boarding and kennelling, holidays and parties, and vet visits and grooming.

But fear and anxiety are everyday occurrences for many cats and dogs — not just special occasions. Daily stressors that pet owners may think their fur babies have habituated to — but which may actually still be causing untold amounts of stress — include the doorbell ringing, mail getting dropped through the mail slot, and loud noises like car horns or alarms.

When pets are stressed, it might seem like they’re “misbehaving.” What’s a pet parent to do?

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Understanding the problem

Recent studies have found that 95 percent of cats and 85 percent of dogs have behavioural problems, and in some cases, the pandemic has made things worse thanks to the extended isolation and lack of pet socialization.

Addressing pets’ fear, anxiety, and stress is doable — but it starts with thoroughly understanding the issue and knowing the signs to watch for, including the not-so-obvious ones.

“Common behavioural problems in dogs often look like growling, biting, and aggressive displays, and with cats, they might show growling, hissing, and even urinating in the home,” says Dr. Colleen Wilson, Animal Behaviour Specialist and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. “But it’s important to note that these aren’t ‘bad’ behaviours — just dog behaviours and cat behaviours.”

The underlying emotions behind many of these behaviours are fear, anxiety, and sometimes pure panic, Dr. Wilson explains. “Plus, people often miss the more subtle signs of anxiety — like dogs turning their head away, blinking, and licking their lips, or cats that hide, don’t want to interact, or seem stiff,” she adds.

Catching the early signs

When pet parents miss the early, subtle signs of fear, anxiety, and stress, minor behavioural issues can escalate — and that can be disastrous. “Behaviour complaints are the number one reason that people relinquish their animals, whether they give the pet away, euthanize, or send the pet to a shelter,” says Dr. Wilson.

Being aware of what to watch for is essential, although often the signs are quite in-your-face. Tara Kasik noticed that her rescue dog Chiquito wasn’t himself after a period of extended stress. “We were living in Peru and when COVID hit, it got really rough there, with a lack of safety, food, and water,” she says. “We got extracted by the Canadian Embassy. My little guy went through weeks of pure torture. When we got back home, I noticed a huge change in his behaviour.

He was barking at everything, being standoffish, and his separation anxiety was through the roof.”

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An all-natural, fast-acting solution

Chiquito wasn’t acting like himself, and Tara was desperate for a solution. Fortunately, she soon found one — an all-natural behaviour supplement, VetriScience® Composure™ Pro, from Grey Wolf Animal Health, a Canadian specialty animal health company.

Composure™ Pro features a powerful blend of active ingredients that work synergistically to provide cognitive and brain function support that can help promote calm behaviour. It is clinically shown to work within 30 minutes and be effective for up to four hours.

“I’ve received very positive results using Composure™ Pro,” says Dr. Wilson. “I feel at ease using it because Grey Wolf maintains high quality-control standards. The product is the only product in Canada to have Colostrum Calming Complex®, Suntheanine® L-Theanine, L-tryptophan, and thiamine (vitamin B1) together in one dose.”

Dr. Wilson explains that these ingredients hit different parts of the brain to help reduce anxiety quickly and effectively. “Composure™ Pro helps reduce worry and anxiety naturally and very safely,” she says.

Happier and calmer pets

“We tried Composure™ Pro and it worked wonders,” says Tara. “Chiquito is way cuddlier now and seems like a much happier dog. Now when he sees another dog on our walks, he’s happy and excited. He’s more relaxed and less on edge. And he enjoys the taste, which is great.”

Dr. Wilson notes that addressing pet stress should begin with teaching the pet what you want them to know, using current positive-based training methods, and ensuring that there are no underlying medical conditions present, and that nutraceuticals like Composure™ Pro can also be an essential part of the solution.

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