Adopting a rescue pet is a huge deal, and it can be life-changing for both you and your new pet. But some rescue pets may have past experiences that influence how they behave today — and learning how to navigate their anxiety can be tricky.
That’s what pet owner Sonali discovered after she and her husband adopted Ella, a 5-year-old Chihuahua. “We were fostering her for three weeks and we happened to fall in love,” Sonali tells Yahoo Lifestyle. But Ella “has some anxiety and fears,” Sonali says. Ella has anxiety around food and often scavenges for food, both on the street and at home. “At home, if we ever leave a bowl out, she’s in there, scarfing it down. She has stomach upsets,” she says.
This is common, especially with rescue pets, Harris says. “They don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, so it’s pretty consistent for them to scavenge for food, hoard their food or even eat too quickly,” she explains.
To help with Ella’s anxious behavior around food, Harris recommends giving the pup a probiotic once a day. It “interacts with the gut and sends messaging up to the brain to help reduce some of those anxiety symptoms,” Harris says.
A slow feeder bowl can also help, Harris says. “It allows her to engage and interact to where it’s going to slow that actual feeding time down to hopefully prevent her from scavenging and hoarding and prevent stomach aches in the future,” she adds.
Ella is also afraid of men, especially tall men, which is a challenge for Sonali’s husband, who is taller. To calm your rescue pet’s fears, Harris suggests using a thunder shirt. “It provides constant pressure and that constant pressure is going to allow her to feel safe and secure.”
If your rescue pet is displaying anxious behaviors, talk to your vet about next steps. They should be able to recommend a personalized treatment.
This article was paid for by Purina and created by Yahoo Lifestyle’s branded content team. The Yahoo Lifestyle editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.