Surprising explanation behind some of your pet's strangest behaviours

A vet has revealed the surprising explanation behind some of your dog’s strangest behaviours.

If your dog is “lip licking”, this could be an early sign of anxiety according to Dr Kersti Seksel, animal psychiatrist at Sydney Animal Behaviour Service in Sydney’s north

“The signs of anxiety in animals vary, just like they vary in people,” Dr Seksel told Yahoo7.

“Earlier signs are things like lip licking, yawning or scratching. It’s a physiological sign of stress.”

20 to 30 per cent of Australian pets suffer from anxiety. Source: Getty (file pic)

Cats hide their fear

While 20 to 30 per cent of Aussie pets suffer from anxiety, it often goes unnoticed in cats as they hide their fear.

“The problem is that people recognise it in dogs, more, because some dogs get very vocal, or they get destructive,” Dr Seksel said.

“Cats tend to hide, so I think a lot of our cats actually suffer without people recognising that they have a problem.”

Much like humans, dogs can be treated through a combination of behavioural therapy and in some cases, anti-depressants.

“The human brain and the dog brain are very similar, because basically, we co-evolved together,” Dr Seksel said.

“If we think about people, we know there are introverts and extroverts and that is also the case with dogs, that they have different personalities.

“We do behaviour modification, so we teach relaxation exercises, to the dogs to given them some coping strategies, we do the same for cats.

Cats often hide their anxiety. Source: Getty (file pic)

Pets on human medications

Dr Seksel has treated anxious pets with medications such as Prozac, often administered inside a spoon of peanut butter.

“All the same types of medications that are used in human medicine, we use the same things,” Dr Seksel said.

“I think people do have an understandable, but probably irrational fear of mind altering medications.

“But they don’t change personality, they don’t sedate them, they don’t do any of those things that people are worried about.

“They don’t turn them into zombies.”

“If the dog or cat seems to be suffering and their welfare is compromised, then you do need to see a vet and maybe a behaviour specialist.”