Zoophobia is the fear of animals. Some people with zoophobia fear all animals, while others are afraid of one specific animal. You may develop zoophobia after a traumatic experience with animals. Or the phobia may be related to another anxiety disorder.
Zoophobia is an extreme fear of animals. Many people who have zoophobia fear one specific type of animal. Others fear many types of animals or all animals.
The fear of animals is a type of anxiety disorder called a specific phobia. Specific phobias are intense fears of certain objects, situations, people or animals. Many people with specific phobias know that the intensity of their fear isn’t proportionate to any actual threat. Still, it can be challenging to manage phobia symptoms.
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Some people who have zoophobia are afraid of one specific type of animal. For example, studies have found that the two most common types of animal phobias are ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
Other common animal phobias include:
Specific phobias are common. More than 12% of adults in the United States have a specific phobia.
In particular, zoophobia is one of the most common specific phobias. Some research has found that a fear of animals is one of the top three most common specific phobias.
Experts don’t know exactly what causes zoophobia. Some factors can increase your risk of developing zoophobia, including:
The primary symptom of zoophobia is an intense fear of animals. Typically, the level of fear isn't proportional to the actual threat an animal poses.
People with zoophobia may avoid going to zoos or even visiting a friend who has pets. They may avoid viewing images or videos of animals like nature documentaries.
Having overwhelming fear around an animal can cause physical symptoms like:
Children who are afraid of animals may also:
Your healthcare provider may ask questions to understand your anxiety around animals. In some cases, physical symptoms may be related to another anxiety disorder or mental health condition.
Your provider may ask if you experience:
Zoophobia treatment often involves a combination of therapies. The goal is to help you live an overall higher quality of life without disruptions. Your provider may recommend:
There's no guaranteed way to prevent zoophobia. If you struggle with fear or anxiety when thinking about or interacting with animals, healthy habits may help reduce how severe your symptoms are. Healthy habits include:
With treatment, many people can manage zoophobia symptoms so they don’t interfere with their daily life. Without treatment, specific phobias can increase your risk of:
Many people have fewer and less frequent symptoms when they receive phobia treatment. Some people may overcome a fear of animals, while others may cope with symptoms long-term.
When you interact with or see an animal you're afraid of, you may lessen anxiety symptoms by:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Zoophobia is the intense, overwhelming fear of animals. Some people feel afraid of one specific type of animal. Others fear all animals. Zoophobia is a type of specific phobia. Often, people with specific phobias know their fear is irrational. But the symptoms can still be difficult to manage. If you have zoophobia, you may benefit from therapy or medication. Some people overcome zoophobia, while others manage anxiety symptoms long term.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/12/2022.
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