Stress is always an uncomfortable experience for humans and animals alike. Humans face numerous stressors everyday, although we have found ways to mitigate the effects.
Animals can also experience stress, but they don’t have the options for relief that humans have readily available. Many stress signs among animals can be similar, even across varying species. These tell-tale signs give us clues that they may require immediate help. After all, stress relief is an important part of maintaining an animal’s overall wellness.
The Mechanisms of Stress
Stress triggers the Sympathetic Nervous System (the fight/flight response), which releases multiple hormones to enhance the body’s response mechanisms. One of those hormones sent by the SNS is a well-known catecholamine called adrenaline. The design of the sympathetic nervous response directs energy to the extremities and the brain. This is one reason why some animals pace or paw at the ground when they are stressed.
When the SNS is triggered, it redirects energy from other body parts to empower the brain and limbs. The digestive system is one part of the body that must donate energy during a sympathetic nervous response (this explains the common link between digestive problems and stress). When stress diminishes, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (the rest and repair response) is activated. The PNS then works to decrease the heart rate and calm the animal into a relaxed state.
Signs of stress
In larger animals, such as horses and cattle, stress can be seen as:
- Increased heart and respiration rate
- Odd behavior, such as repetitive head movements
- Excessive reactions to typical sights and sounds
- Different behavior from the herd
In smaller animals, stress typically instigates panting, pacing, hiding, increased aggression, or changes to their eating and drinking habits. Every animal responds to stress differently. Understanding what is normal for your animal can help pinpoint an abnormal stress response.
Respond to Stress!
When stress levels rise in an animal, it is important to ensure the animal and others nearby are safe. Next, identify the stressor and, if possible, remove or mitigate it. If it is not immediately obvious what the trigger is, consider any recent variables. For example: was there a recent vet visit, change in routine, transportation, or social separation?
Once you identify a stressor, you can take steps to reduce the animal’s exposure to it. However, there are situations where you can’t avoid the stressor. In these cases, it is best to make your interaction as comfortable as possible for the animal. Talk with your veterinarian or trainer to learn different ways to safely respond to a stressed animal.
Can PEMF Help With Stress?
PEMF is a relaxing and restorative modality that provides gentle pulsing that supports general relaxation of the body.[4,5] “PEMF helps with stress in 3 basic ways. One is to reduce the brain’s reaction to it. The second is to help the body eliminate the neurotransmitters and hormones produced by stressful fight/flight reactions. The third is to defend the cells and tissues of the body from the physical changes induced by stress chemicals and hormones.” (Pawluk)
During a PEMF session, many animals show positive signs of comfort and physical relaxation. These releases are indicators that the animals are accepting the PEMF-induced relaxed state. Adding PEMF sessions as a part of your animal’s wellness plan may be beneficial to their overall wellness. After all, any opportunity to ease stress is beneficial for animals and humans!
Pawluk, William, and Caitlin J. Layne. Power Tools for Health: How Pulsed Magnetic Fields (Pemfs) Help You, FriesenPress, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2017, pg. 50.
[1,4,5] To locate the resources cited here, please visit info.pulseequine.com/research