Panting, destructive chewing, urinating and defaecating when alone are signs of separation anxiety.
Anxiety or stress can be extremely debilitating and render a pet susceptible to emotional and health problems.
Separation anxiety is a behavioural condition that occurs in both cats and dogs when separated from their owner. Typical signs include destructive behaviours that occur when left alone. Although the causes of separation anxiety are not fully understood, it is apparent that genetics and environmental factors play a role.
The goal of treatment is to teach the dog to tolerate being alone. The management involves environmental and behaviour modification with or without medication.
Common signs of separation anxiety:
Common causes of separation anxiety:
Common triggers for separation anxiety:
If your pet is showing these signs, book them in for a full veterinary examination to rule out medical conditions first. If your pet is considered healthy, your veterinarian will consider environmental and behaviour modifying techniques and in severe cases, prescribe medication.
Providing your pet with a relaxation mat
The use of relaxation scents such as lavender or Adaptil spray
Training your pet to relax on a mat
Giving praise and treats when relaxed
Slowly leaving your pet in a relaxed condition for seconds initially and slowly extending this to minutes and hours
Finding the triggers for its anxiety such as picking up the car keys or grabbing a jacket and performing this a number of times a day without leaving and rewarding your pet for relaxed behaviour.
Never punish your pet for anxious behaviour
Medication may be prescribed, particularly in severe cases and has been shown to improve behaviours four times faster when combined with behavioural modification.
Bloodwork is often required prior to commencing medications
Medications can be prolonged (up to 8-12 months) or lifelong
Tips to help manage a pet with separation anxiety:
If the anxiety becomes excessive, seek veterinary attention. Your vet will be able to put a management program together which includes modifying the environment, behaviour with or without the use of medication.