Pets suffer from mental health issues just like us, so taking steps to ease their anxiety and make them feel good is important. You can accomplish this in your regular grooming sessions!
Grooming is an important part of being a pet parent – but not just for the reasons you might think. Sure, brushing and bathing is good for your animal’s skin and coat, but with the proper tools and techniques, it can also improve the state of his mental health!
Mental health issues in dogs and cats
Animal mental health issues can be triggered by many of the same factors that unleash mental illness in humans. This includes the loss of family or companions, loss of freedom, stress, trauma and abuse. If your pet is a rescue with a difficult past, for instance, it might take some work to help him heal emotionally. This means plenty of positive reinforcement with treats, a positive tone of voice, and lots of praise. Positive experiences, like exercise and grooming, can also help.
The link between grooming and stress
Grooming is a time-proven technique to relax animals. In her book, Zoobiquity – a study of animal psychology – Barbara Natterson Horowitz explains that grooming is nature’s own self-soothing strategy. Animals have historically groomed themselves and other animals as a tool to build soothing social bonds. In many cases this is a healthy habit that acts as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress and other emotional problems. But if your pet is excessively grooming or displaying other obsessive behaviors, it may be a sign that he’s experiencing mental health difficulties.
Positive grooming can help
It’s our job as pet parents to make sure our animals are equipped with positive grooming habits so they can be in the best mental space possible. Take steps to create a fun and comfortable grooming ritual for your animal companion, and with time and consistency, he’ll come to expect it. Eventually, this positive association will improve his overall mental health.
In addition to lots of treats and positive reinforcement, the grooming tools you use are also important. Reach for gentle, non-metal brushes that are designed with the animal’s comfort in mind. Certain tools, such as StripHair® The Gentle Groomer®, act as a massage for dogs, not only removing loose hair, but improving physical and emotional well-being.
A simple adjustment to your grooming routine can create an experience that fosters good mental health in your fur babe. Studies have shown that pets increase our mental well-being, so it’s only fair that we return the favor!