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Bringing Home a Pet With Trauma – How To Help Them Cope

Pet Care Tips 5 min read
Bringing Home a Pet With Trauma – How To Help Them Cope

Stress and trauma can manifest in many ways. With rescue pets, it’s hard to always know their history. They can’t tell us everything they have been through. Maybe they suffered abuse or neglect from an owner, or maybe they got separated from their families during stressful events such as a hurricane or a wildfire, or a car accident, or maybe the only life they have ever known is life on the streets. All we want is to help them rebuild their faith and confidence in the world.


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Stress is not always a negative thing, as it is part of everyday life and can sometimes even help protect us from dangerous situations. Our animal companions can be thrown into a state of extreme stress over a variety of different experiences. When bringing home a rescue dog or a rescue cat we have to remember not to judge their personalities and label them anxious or aggressive. We also have to remember to be patient, even though it is the state of mind, the whole body is affected and we have to help them cope with it.

Bringing home a pet with trauma can be a frightening and tense situation. They may need time to adjust to their new surroundings. They are safe now but they may still be dealing with trauma from the past. Here are some of the things you may recognize in a furkid with trauma:

• Anxiety

• Depression

• Lack of appetite

• Trauma-driven fear

• Finding places to hide

• Aggression

• Pacing

• Excessive vocalization (whining, barking, meowing)

• Heavy panting

• Trembling

• Housebreaking issues

It’s important to remember that trauma has a very deep impact. it will take some work to recognize and minimize the stress triggers for your new fur baby. In the process of bringing home a pet with trauma, your NHV Pet Experts are here to help our fur babies heal.

Juno here was rescued from the streets by his dog mom in the Philippines. He had mange and needed lots of extra medical attention before becoming healthy and social.


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Tips to reduce stress and trauma in your rescue pet

First few days

• Give them space and time to decompress. Even something like an anxiety shirt or a security blanket, or having their own ‘spot’ in the house can help them feel safe and secure. A porcelain tub or a dry and dark spot in a ventilated closet also helps.

• Approach with calm and confident energy. Our fur kids pick up on our mood too. Leading by example helps us build a bond with our fur kids. Take 5 minutes to relax and normalize your breathing before you approach them. If you are stressed while handling them, they will stress out too.

• With cats it is very important to help them feel safe and protected when they are eating or using the litter box. Don’t let the other pets in the house or any loud noise startle them when they are eating.

• Get them fresh bowls, litter boxes, bed, leash, and collars. It will really help if they get new objects around them that do not smell like their past life in a shelter. Sometimes, if the pet looks very comfortable with a certain toy or blanket then it is better to bring that object home for him so that he can feel secure in its lingering smells.

• Take them to the vet for a thorough check-up and get them the medical attention they need. Before you introduce your rescued pet to other pets, kids, or the elderly in the house, you must get a clear go-ahead from the vet. Sometimes our rescued companions can come home suffering from heartworms, malnutrition, skin infections, or contagious diseases like FIV and FeLV. That’s not a death sentence. NHV pet experts will work along with you and your vet to help them live a healthy and normal life. Keep your promise!

• Get a crate to help them sleep in, for the first few nights.


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• Reward every positive action with a positive reaction. It could be a treat or a pat or a kiss or lots of praises. That will encourage the scared little kiddo to open up and accept all the new attention he is getting.

• Gradually introduce them to other animals and humans, to ensure they feel confident and comfortable. Let them take their time and introduce one new person or animal at a time.

• Ensure they have proper identification in the event they do try to escape.

• Introduce routine. A daily feeding, training, and walking routine can help enrich their lives with restructure and to re-build confidence.

• Try to identify and manage any stress triggers. Ask your family and friends to help if needed. Some rescued pets get very worked up when they hear loud noises or some hide when they see a flame or a lighter. Some may even associate cars with trouble and hence show aggression around them. You have to make a note of each trigger and try to eliminate them from their lives for some time before positively introducing them again. Rewarding each successful interaction.

Useful Tips & Tricks

• Calming herbal formulas like NHV Lesstress for dogs or Matricalm for dogs, cats, and other pets can help reduce their stress and anxiety while adjusting to a new home. These supplements can be given at double the recommended dose for the first few weeks to help reduce stress and make a smooth transition possible.

• Feed them well. A healthy and well-balanced diet can fix so much. It will help them stay active and feel welcomed in their new environment. NHV multi essentials is a great multivitamin that can help fill dietary gaps quickly and give them some much-needed energy and nutrition boost.

Homemade bone broth is a great way of getting sickly and stressed out pets to eat. We have a recipe that works really well. You can also get them some NHV Yucca to help relieve any discomfort while simultaneously promoting a healthy appetite.

• High-quality essential oils like Chamomile and Lavender can be used to spread calm around the house. Instead of using electronic diffusers which can be harmful to pets, it is better to go for high-quality pure oil and simply place a few drops on objects around the house, ensuring that the pets do not come in contact with them or ingest them in any situation. You could even place a drop or two on yourself when you try to approach them.

• Organize a few dates with your new rescue before bringing home a pet with trauma. On those dates take along objects from your house and leave them behind for her to familiarize herself with.

Dexter the smiling potato was rescued from a shelter in a very sad state and blind from one eye. Thanks to the admirable efforts of some caring pet rescuers, Dexter is now in a loving home and has forgotten the horrid life of his past.

Be patient and don’t give up on your promise. Many of these rescue pets have already been to different owners and have been rejected. Or they have been scarred for life. But the good thing is that animals are very forgiving. A little bit of TLC goes a long way, and they eventually leave their baggage and become one of your own. Bringing home a pet with trauma and a life with a rescue pet will bring its own unique rewards.

Have any questions about bringing a rescued pet into your home? Contact an NHV Pet Expert.

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Vet Talks: Bringing a New Pet Home – Tips From My Life as a Rescue Mom

NHV Pet Experts

NHV Pet Experts

We have a dedicated group of pet expert professionals, including veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet professionals to guide you through any questions. We’re committed to your pet’s wellness and can offer additional tips, resources, nutritional advice, and more.

Published: July 5, 2019

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