What Causes Pet Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety affects many of our dogs and some of our cats, too. It is a condition that is often triggered by a sudden change in your pet’s routine—such as the start of the school year. After a long summer of having their best friends home to play with, suddenly your pet is left in an empty house for the better part of the day. Since pets don’t understand that we’ll always come back home, their anxiety stems from a sense of abandonment. Luckily, if you notice signs of pet separation anxiety in your pet, it’s not too late. There are plenty of ways you can help curb their anxiety for the betterment of their well-being.
Signs of Anxiety
Signs that your pet suffers from separation anxiety may include:
- Destructive behavior (torn up pillows, chewed shoes, etc.)
- Escape attempts (signs of digging or clawing around doors and windows)
- House soiling (only when you are away)
- Excessive barking and howling
- Pacing in a straight line or pattern
Reducing the Anxiety of Being Alone
Reducing pet separation anxiety can be a long process depending on the severity of your pet’s condition. Yet, for the sake of their well-being (and your furniture and shoes), it is the best option for you and your pet. Here are some ways you can help reduce anxiety:
- Come and go as nonchalantly as possible. When you fuss over your pet when you’re about to leave and when you come home, you only reinforce their feelings of anxiety and the bad behaviors that come with them. Leave with little or no goodbye and pay little attention to them when you come home until they’ve settled down.
- Give your pet a food puzzle with their favorite treat inside before you leave, such as peanut butter or cream cheese. Freezing the contents will make this distracting treat last even longer.
- Let your pet play with a favorite, special toy that they only get when they are alone. This helps create a positive association with having the house to themselves.
- Make sure your pet has plenty of exercise and stimulation before you leave and when you come home. A tired dog is much less likely to panic when you’re about to leave.
- If your dog or cat has severe separation anxiety that doesn’t change with these tips, please talk to your veterinarian. We’ll help you decide on the right supplement or anti-anxiety medication to help keep them calm while you work on continuous training to reduce their stress.
Contact our animal hospital today at 310-559-2424 for more information about pet separation anxiety and ways to help your pet cope!