It's National Pet Day and we're discussing the condition that affects a large number of pet owners daily - separation anxiety in dogs. Has your dog started ripping up your favorite belongings or going potty indoors when you’re away? Much like a child, your pup may be acting out to communicate his emotions. For a variety of reasons, many pets experience separation anxiety when away from their owner. Understanding the source of your pet’s anxiety, adjusting your daily routine and incorporating calming products can relieve some of your furry friend’s stress – and save some of your stuff – while you leave for the day.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety in dogs presents feelings of anxiety or stress when left alone. Typically, dogs exhibit destructive or aggressive behavior as a result of these feelings. Most dogs will display more extreme behavior within the first 15 minutes of being alone. However, they may also have spurts of adverse behavior. Some cases of separation anxiety in dogs are mild but can worsen over time, and vice versa.
What are the Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Because dogs can’t tell us what is wrong, they rely on other methods of communication to express their emotions. Every dog displays separation anxiety differently, but there are generally three categories of behavior: destructiveness, vocalization and inappropriate excretion.
- Escape Attempts
- Urination and defecation indoors
Your dog may show other common signs of stress and anxiety including pacing, jumping, restlessness, social withdrawal and loss of appetite. Addressing your pup’s behavior is essential to his safety. Escape attempts can result in injuries and lacerations. Compulsive licking, chewing and biting from nerves can lead to open sores called “hot spots” that increase the risk of secondary bacterial and yeast infections.
Why Does My Dog Have Separation Anxiety?
Dogs are incredibly loyal and sensitive animals that form strong bonds with their owners. Most puppies show signs of separation anxiety after being removed from the litter but should grow out of it once they establish a relationship with their human owner. Some dogs – especially rescues – are more susceptible to feel separation anxiety. Older dogs with declining health, animals with a single owner or hyper-attached pets usually have more severe feelings of angst when left alone. Other contributing factors to separation anxiety in dogs include:
- Abandonment by an owner or mother
- Surrendered to a shelter
- Frequent boarding at kennels or hospitalization at vet
- Excessive time at home alone
- Moving to a new home
- Death of an owner or loved one
- Change in work schedule
How Do I Know My Pet Has Separation Anxiety?
The signs of separation anxiety can also be side effects of more serious health conditions. For example, house-soiling can signal a problem with your dog’s bladder or the start of dementia. You should consult your veterinarian to rule out potential health concerns.
What Can You Do To Ease Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
- Remain calm – Whenever you’re about to leave or return for the day, keep your greetings to a minimum. Excessive goodbyes can make your absence much harder for your pup. Extreme hellos can reinforce his bad behavior from when you were away.
- Switch up your departure routine – Dogs are especially intuitive and easily pick up on our habits. Dogs with separation anxiety may begin to panic as soon as you start readying yourself for the day. By varying your routine, your dog may not recognize that you are about to depart and potentially remain calmer.
- Refocus his energy – Create a mentally engaging environment for your pup while you’re away. Giving him a chew toy before you leave presents a healthier outlet for his anxiety. Some dogs develop severe separation anxiety due to boredom, so making his time alone more stimulating and physically appealing may curb his negative behavior.
- Plan ahead – Take your dog on long walks before you leave for the day to tire him out. He is more likely to fall asleep when you go instead of turning to destructive behavior.
- Incorporate CBD – Calming supplements like CBD Dog Treats for Anxiety may decrease your pet’s feelings of anxiety and panic. CBD is known to ease the physiological response of stress and anxiety by lowering heart rate and blood pressure and encouraging a better state of mind. If you give your pup this tasty snack 30 minutes before you leave, he may feel more relaxed while you’re away.
If your pet does not seem to improve, you may want to consider seeing a behaviorist who can help reduce the severity of his separation anxiety and assist you with a plan to make your best buddy more comfortable.