Bovinophobia: definition, symptoms, causes and treatment

We know that there are many phobias, since you can have in excess almost any stimulus. Animal phobias, for example, are very typical (especially in childhood); Today we will talk about one of them: bovinophobia .

As you can tell us his name, bovinophobia is the phobia of cows or cattle (that is, cows, bulls and oxen). Why does this phobia appear? How can it be treated? We will answer these questions throughout this article.

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Bovinophobia: what is it?

Bovinophobia, also called taurophobia, is the phobia of cows or cattle or cattle (which includes cows, bulls and oxen) . Specifically, it is a specific phobia, where the dreaded stimulus or situation can be specified (in this case, cows or cattle).

Recall that specific phobias are actually anxiety disorders , listed 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 the DSM-5, can be of 5 different types: phobia of natural events, phobia of animals, phobia of blood / injection / wounds, situational phobias and other types of phobia. Thus, bovinophobia corresponds to a phobia of the animal type.


Where does this term come from? The “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”, “taurus” comes from Latin, and means “bull.”

Types of cattle

Before we get into the symptoms, causes and treatments of bovinophobia, let’s specify well what type of animals includes cattle (the phobic object of bovinophobia).

First of all, we should know that there are five types of livestock, depending on the domesticated or raised species. Livestock is that set of animals raised by humans; It is mainly about mammalian animals, which are raised to be able to obtain and commercialize their meats and derivatives (milk, cheese, wool …).

The five types of livestock mentioned are:

  • Beef or bovine (phobic object of bovinophobia): cows, bulls and oxen.
  • Sheep: sheep.
  • Goat: goats.
  • Pigs: pigs.
  • Equine or horse: horses and mares.


Cattle include these three animals mentioned; cows (females), bulls (males) and oxen. They are herbivorous mammals (which feed on meat) and domesticated, belonging to the genus Bos, of the Bovidos family .

As for their physical characteristics, they are large animals, with two horns (or hollow antlers) that retain their entire lives.


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 bulls .

1. Anxiety or fear

The main symptom of bovinophobia is anxiety or intense fear of the possibility of being near cows or cattle. Logically, people living in urban settings will hardly encounter such a situation.

In this way, it will be the people who live in rural settings who are more likely to suffer more from this anxiety symptom .

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

The person suffering from bovinophobia also manifests this other symptom, which is avoidance; Thus, avoid being in places where you can see cows or cattle (such as farms, rural environments …).

Thus, you can avoid going to certain field trips for this reason. If avoidance does not appear, the situation is supported with high 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 (anxiety attack) in the individual. These symptoms can be feelings of choking, sweating, tachycardia, dry mouth, dizziness, vomiting, nausea … and they 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 an interference or deterioration in the life of the individual, what happens if in this case the person lives in an urban environment (for example a city) where it will not be very common for him to have What to see cows, oxen and / or bulls? That this symptom will not suffer.

The debate is, do we talk about a case of bovinophobia? Surely yes, although due to environmental circumstances, this disorder does not cause this interference in the patient , luckily.


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

More related traumatic situations may be the fact of having seen 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 about 325 bullfighters have lost their lives during a run. Listening to stressful or violent stories related to cattle can also cause bovinophobia.

On the other hand, being these animals of large proportions, and even having horns, all this facilitates the fear of this type of mammals (especially the bull), since in themselves they can cause some respect; However, in the case of bovinophobia, this fear is excessively intense and disabling.

  • You may be interested: ” Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics


Regarding the treatment of bovinophobia, as long as this disorder interferes with the patient’s life and it wants to be treated, we find different options. The main ones are two: exposure therapy and cognitive therapy (they are the most effective therapies to treat specific phobias).

Through the first, the patient would be exposed to phobic stimulation (in this case, the cow, the bull or the ox). One option is to do it first through static images (for example 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 items).

Ideally, the person could end up approaching them and touching them (in a safe and controlled environment). All these steps, logically, would be gradual (a previous hierarchy would be performed).

As for the cognitive therapy for bovinophobia, the patient will seek to acquire coping strategies for anxiety (for example through breathing), and eliminate negative, dysfunctional and irrational thoughts in relation to this type of animals.


by Abdullah Sam
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