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Separation Anxiety in Pets

Separation anxiety can affect both dogs and cats. There is no conclusive evidence showing exactly why pets develop this. Did you get used to spending all day, every day with your pet for the last few months? Or perhaps you recently adopted a pet and are nervous about returning to work, school, and more. Regardless of your situation, you might not realize how stressful it can be for your furry family member when you leave. The change in routine can result in confusion at best—and, at worst, in separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is actually a very common diagnosis, affecting 20-40% of dogs. When compared with dogs, separation anxiety in cats is rare—at least in terms of diagnosing it.

Signs of separation anxiety can be:
• Urination / defecation in the house (or outside of the litter box)
• Salivation
• Destruction found when the owner returns homedoginblanket
• Trying to prevent you from leaving
• Digging / trying to escape
• Self-inflicted trauma

More subtle signs that one may not notice include:
• Inappetence
• Pacing
• Panting
• Vocalizing during their owner’s absence
• Hiding / social withdrawal
• Hypervigilance
• Trembling

Video monitoring is a key component to the diagnosis of Separation Anxiety because many clinical signs may not be evident when the owners return home. Before discussing treatment options, underlying medical conditions should be ruled out first.

Treatment of separation anxiety includes both acute management and long-term management. Acute management involves medication and supplements, changing departure routines, kennel training, and changing arrival routines. Long term management includes, but is not limited to, teaching a settle and relax cue, altering the pet-owner relationship, altering departure / arrival routines, decreasing the predictive value of departure cues, and graduated planned departures. Video monitoring also comes in handy when treating this condition to know if the treatment is working.

If you believe your pet suffers from separation anxiety, please contact our office to set up a consultation. 920-498-2808.