Bovinophobia: definition, symptoms, causes and treatment

We know there are a lot of phobias because you can have almost any stimulus in excess. Animal phobias, for example, are very typical (especially in childhood); today we are going to talk about one of them: bovinophobia.

As the name suggests, bovinophobia is the phobia of cows or cattle (i.e. cows, oxen, and oxen). Why does this phobia appear? How can it be treated? We will answer these questions throughout this article.

    Bovinophobia: what is it?

    Bovinophobia, also called taurophobia, is phobia in cows, cattle, or cattle (including cows, oxen, and oxen). More precisely, it is a specific phobia, where the stimulus or the feared situation can be specified (in this case, cows or cattle).

    Remember that specific phobias are in fact anxiety disorders, Cataloged as such in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders). The main characteristic of phobias is an intense, irrational and disproportionate fear of a particular stimulus. In addition to this main symptom, other associated symptoms appear, as we will see later.

    Specific phobias, according to DSM-5, can be of 5 different types: natural event phobia, animal phobia, blood / injection / wound phobia, situational phobias and other types of phobia. Thus, bovinophobia corresponds to a phobia of the animal type.


    Where does this term come from? “Bovinophobia” comes from the Latin “Bovi”, which means “ox or cattle”, and from the Greek “phobos”, which means “fear”. In the case of its equivalent term, “taurophobia”, “bull” comes from Latin and means “bull”.

    Types of cattle

    Before delving into the symptoms, causes and treatments of bovinophobia, let’s be clear what type of animals include cattle (The phobic object of bovinophobia).

    First of all, you should know that there are five types of livestock, depending on the domestic or domestic species. Cattle are the collection of animals raised by humans; These are mainly mammals, which are bred to obtain and market their meat and their derivatives (milk, cheese, wool, etc.).

    The five types of cattle mentioned are:

    • Cow or bovine (phobic object of bovinophobia): cows, oxen and oxen.
    • Sheep: sheep.
    • Goat: goats.
    • Pig: pigs.
    • Horse or equine: horses and mares.


    Cattle include these three animals mentioned; cows (females), oxen (males) and oxen. They are herbivorous (carnivorous) and domestic mammals, belonging to the genus Bos, of the bovidae family.

    As for their physical characteristics, they are large animals, with two horns (or hollow rods) that last their entire life.


    The symptoms of bovinophobia correspond to the typical symptoms of a specific phobia, applied, in this case, to the intense fear of cows, oxen and oxen.

    1. Anxiety or fear

    The main symptom of bovinophobia is anxiety or intense fear of being around cows or livestock. Logically, people living in urban areas will hardly encounter such a situation.

    This way they will be people living in rural areas are more likely to suffer from this anxiety symptom more.

    On the other hand, it is also true that this anxiety can appear when watching cows or cattle on television, without having to see it in person.

    2. Avoidance

    Another symptom of the person suffering from bovinophobia is avoidance; thus, he avoids being in places where he can see cows or livestock (such as farms, rural areas …).

    So, you can avoid doing some field trips for this reason. If avoidance does not appear, the situation is endured with strong anxiety (For example being near cows).

    3. Physical symptoms

    In bovinophobia, associated with anxiety, other psychophysiological symptoms appear, which may or may not cause a panic attack (Attack of anxiety) in the individual. These symptoms can be sensations of suffocation, sweating, tachycardia, dry mouth, dizziness, vomiting, nausea … and have to do with the sympathetic nervous system.

    4. Deterioration of the quality of life

    While it is true that in order to diagnose a phobia there must be interference or deterioration in the life of the individual, what if in this case the person lives in an urban environment (for example a city) where it won’t be much? is it common to see cows, oxen and / or oxen? That this symptom will not suffer.

    The debate is, are we talking about a case of bovinophobia then? Surely yes, however due to environmental circumstances, this disorder does not cause this interference in the patient, Fortunately.

    the causes

    What are the causes of bovinophobia? As in any specific phobia, one of the most likely causes is having experienced a traumatic situation with cows, oxen or oxen (Or even similar animals). This situation may have been a bite, blow, attack, etc., by these animals.

    More related traumatic situations may be witnessing bullfights or other events, where bullfighters die. This includes seeing it in person or in the news. Specifically, in Spain, since 1700, it is estimated that around 325 bullfighters have lost their lives in a race. Hear stressful or violent stories related to livestock it can also cause bovinophobia.

    On the other hand, being these animals of great proportions, and even endowed with horns, all this makes it possible to better fear this type of mammal (especially the bull), because in themselves can arouse a certain respect; but, in the case of bovinophobia, this fear is excessively intense and disabling.


      As for the treatment of bovinophobia, as long as this disorder interferes with the patient’s life and he wishes to treat, there are different options. The main ones are two: exposure therapy and cognitive therapy (These are the most effective therapies for treating specific phobias).

      Thanks to the first, the patient would be exposed to the phobic stimulus (in this case, the cow, the ox or the beef). One option is to do this first through still images (e.g. on paper), then through videos, to end with a real experience, in which you are close to these animals (In between there would be more steps and elements).

      Ideally, the person could end up approaching and touching them (in a safe and controlled environment). All of these steps, of course, would be gradual (a prior hierarchy would be established).

      Regarding cognitive therapy for bovinophobia, the patient will be asked to acquire strategies for coping with anxiety (Eg through breathing), and to eliminate negative, dysfunctional and irrational thoughts about this type of animal.

      Bibliographical references:

      • American Psychiatric Association -APA- (2014). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Madrid: Panamericana.
      • Jarrige, R. (1992). Robert Jarrige, C. Béranger, ed. Livestock production. Elsevier Health Sciences.
      • Pérez, M., Fernández, JR, Fernández, C. and Amic, I. (2010). Guide to effective psychological treatments I and II :. Madrid: Pyramid.

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