Are you familiar with separation anxiety? Dr. Isabelle Demontigny-Bédard, veterinarian specializing in Behavioral Medicine, talks about this condition that might affect your animal.
A “normal” dog sleeps or rests when their owners are out. A dog that has separation anxiety presents one or more of the following behaviours:
- Destructive behaviour
- Lack of cleanliness – urine or droppings
- Anorexia – doesn’t eat food or treats
- Excessive salivation – puddles of saliva are found upon return
- Escape attempts – scratching/biting cage bars or door frames
- Excessively active – cannot stop moving
When the owner/s are getting ready to leave the home, one or more of the following behaviours may be present:
- Excessive salivation
- Keeping close proximity
- Refusing to go into their cage
- Attempting to prevent departure going as far as aggressive behaviour.
Upon their owners’ return, dogs that has separation anxiety tend to greet them very energetically, no matter the length of their absence.
Explaining this behaviour
Separation anxiety is distress that the dog exhibits when it cannot be in contact with their attachment figure, usually their owners. Dogs with separation anxiety are more likely to present other anxiety-related issues such as a phobia of storms and/or of loud noises. This behaviour can also present itself in cats.
How to Help Your Pet
Filming your dog when they are alone will allow the veterinarian to confirm a separation anxiety diagnosis and to monitor its progress.
Most dogs need medication to be able to effectively control their separation anxiety and then be able to learn how to stay alone without panicking. Make an appointment with your veterinarian so they can recommend the appropriate medication and length of treatment, as required.
These tips can help your pet feel better:
- Leaving calmly and quickly, without making a fuss.
- Waiting for the dog to be calm before giving them attention when you come back home.
- Not disciplining your dog when you come back home, even if they made a mess.
- Leaving calming music on and a (safe) toy stuffed with food available to the dog during your absence. Talk to your veterinary team for suggestions!
- Ensuring a sufficient level of exercise and mental stimulation.