As the kids return to school, your pet may suddenly be feeling a bit more stressed about being left alone. Making things even more complicated for you and your nervous pet, your schedule may be in flux right now. If you’re been wondering if your pet’s behavior may be separation anxiety, this article will answer those questions. We also have advice for helping your pet overcome their anxiety.
Is It Separation Anxiety?
Dogs, cats, and other pets can all develop separation anxiety. Pet separation anxiety is characterized by irrational fear associated with a pet’s owner leaving. Pets with separation anxiety often express their anxiety through a combination of the following symptoms:
- Whining, crying, whimpering as the owner prepares to leave
- Mewing, barking, or vocalizing when alone
- Trying to escape the house
- Having bathroom accidents
- Tearing up furniture or other household items
- Staring as if in a trance
- Excessive drooling from nervousness
- Digging or scratching at the door
Why Do Pets Develop Separation Anxiety?
There is no exact reason why some pets struggle with separation anxiety while others do not. Many people used to speculate that it had something to do with early weaning. However, there is no evidence to support this. There are some commonalities that can cause separation to arise. These include:
- A sudden change in schedule
- Moving into a new home
- Loss of a family member or another pet
- Being left alone after spending most of their time with their family
- Moving from a shelter to a new family
How Can I Help My Pet Overcome Their Separation Anxiety?
- Make an Appointment to See Us
We have helped countless pets with separation anxiety. We would love to help yours, too. If you make an appointment to help your pet with separation anxiety, we will help determine how severe your pet’s anxiety is. From there, we can prescribe medication is need, guide you through the process of helping your pet, and determine that your pet’s symptoms are not the result of another health issue.
Begin Counter-Conditioning Your Pet
Separation anxiety is the result of an irrational fear related to an owner leaving--through counter-conditioning, you can replace the negative feelings with a positive association with your absence.
Begin by giving your pet high-value treats (or a toy) as you prepare to leave the house. Reserve these specific treats or toys for when you leave, only.
Give your pet this high-value reward as soon as you notice the signs of separation anxiety beginning. If you wait until you’re at the door--your pet may be too deep into their panic mindset to process that they’re receiving a treat. Over time, slowly progress to giving the treat closer and closer to your exiting.
- Create a Comfortable Place for Your Pet to Relax While You’re Away
Crate training can help a nervous dog feel more secure. It can also keep them safe if they are exhibiting destructive behaviors. Cats also benefit from a ‘safe place’ to relax while their owner is away.
Consider outfitting your pet’s new den or safe place with:
- A few articles of clothes or a sheet that smells like you
- Calming pheromones
- Comfortable bedding and a few comfort toys
- Provide Your Pet Supplement Support
Prescription medications are the only option for internal anxiety support for pets. Supplements can help your pet enjoy a calmer mindset. Many of these supplements taste like treats and are effective at calming nervous pets.
Exercise and Engagement Reduce Stress
Providing your pet with an outlet for excess energy can significantly reduce their symptoms of stress and anxiety. Daily exercise and mental stimulation are key for dogs and cats. Integrate daily play into your routine. Schedule your play sessions before you need to leave, but leave enough time for your pet to return to a calmer state after the excitement of playtime.
Say “Farewell!” to Your Pet’s Separation Anxiety
When your pet suffers from separation anxiety, it can be overwhelming. Leaving your pet alone can leave you stressed out and feeling guilty. Get help sooner rather than later--separation anxiety rarely goes away on its own. We are here to help support you and your pet. Make an appointment today to chat with us about your pet’s behavior.
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