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What could hiding, cowering or withdrawal from its usual routine mean?

Some dogs and cats like to have their own space, an area where they know they’ll not be disturbed and feel safe. However, this can also be a sign that the animal is scared or anxious and is particularly concerning if it is out of character for them to withdraw. This can be a coping strategy when an animal feels unwell or is in pain, so always visit your vet if there is a change in your pet’s behaviour.

Why do cats hide?

We usually think of cats as a predator species, but they’re also classed as a prey species too. This means they like a hidey-hole to feel safe, so it’s important that cats always have plenty of opportunities for hiding, whether it’s under the bed, in a wardrobe, behind the sofa, in an igloo bed or even a cardboard box – figure out where your cat enjoys retreating and then actively encourage them to use that area. And make sure they’re left alone when they choose to spend time there.

However, if your cat is spending an excessive amount of time hiding, is only coming out for food, drink and to use the toilet, this may be a sign of them being fearful of something, generally anxious or in pain. Never block access to their hiding place – in fact, provide more hidey holes to encourage them to move from place-to-place. You could even speak to your vet and ask for referral to a qualified behaviourist to help your cat.

Why do dogs hide?

Many dogs like a covered den area to retreat to, and some dogs will go even further and hide under the covers. This is particularly common with terriers (bred to go down dark burrows and holes to find prey animals) and those breeds who feel the cold such as vizslas, whippets and greyhounds. If your dog enjoys resting or sleeping in a hidey hole, provide a special area and/or bed for them that allows this.

Like cats, dogs who hide and withdraw from life a lot of the time are likely to be finding life stressful or are in pain. Lowered body language and cowering with the tail between the legs is also indicative of feeling worried. Leave the dog alone unless they are seeking comfort or reassurance in which case feel free to give it.

If you think your pet is hiding away more than often, cowering or withdrawing, Zylkene could help make them feel more relaxed. There are many more signs to look for to see if your pet isn’t coping. Discover more about what they are and how Zylkene could help.