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Seperation Anxiety

06 Nov Please Don’t Leave! – Seperation Anxiety

A frequent complaint heard in many veterinary clinics is that a dog becomes destructive or disruptive when the owner is away from the house. Sometimes this is just because your pet has too much pent up energy or is bored being at home alone. However, when this behavior is accompanied by other distress behaviors such as anxiety or drooling, it may be a case of separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is separated from their guardians — the people they’re attracted to. Attempts to escape and find the guardian can sometimes result in extreme behavior that causes much destruction and/or self-injury. When the people return home, the dog acts as if they have been gone forever and the greeting is overwhelming.

There is not any one specific cause for this type of behavior but it is seen more often in dogs that are adopted from shelters, possibly indicating that losing an important person is a strong contributing factor. Other causes include a traumatic incident when home alone (e.g. earthquake, strong storm, house fire), a move to a new home, a change in the household memberships, or a change in schedule — for example a new job or work shift.

Some of the symptoms of separation anxiety include inappropriate urinating or defecating in the house, excessive barking and howling, destruction of household items, attempts to escape from the house or crate that can cause self-injury, drooling and pacing.

Minor separation anxiety can sometimes be treated by such things as leaving treats for the dog and around the house for the dog to find and taking the dog out to run off some energy before departure. Moderate to severe cases of separation anxiety may need to be treated with a combination of desensiti- zation therapy and anti-anxiety drugs. Usually this kind of therapy is done with the guidance of an animal behaviorist.

If your dog is showing signs of separa- tion anxiety, talk to your veterinarian