Does your pet freak out when they see you heading outside? Do they start acting unusual when you return home after a long day? If so, they could have separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder that affects pets globally. The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine reports that around 20 to 40 percent of dogs presented to the vets suffer from this condition.
Often, cats or dogs with separation anxiety become stressed and frustrated, making them behave strangely. However, it’s nothing but simply their way of asking for help.
In this article, we will discuss the causes and symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs, along with some tips to help you calm down your anxious pet easily.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety occurs when you leave your pet alone for the first time or after spending multiple days with them.
In this condition, your dog gets stressed and starts behaving differently to get your attention. These behavioral changes range from slight whining to howling and barking loudly.
As a concerned pet owner, you must realize that separation anxiety is a serious condition, and you must deal with it in time. Luckily, there are various tricks that you can follow to help ease your pet’s anxiety.
But first, let’s know about all the possible causes of separation anxiety in dogs:
- Shifting from one home to another
- Change of owner
- Being left alone after months
- Change in the home schedule or routine
- Death or sudden absence of the family member to whom they are most attached
If you spot any such thing, the next step is to watch out for the signs and symptoms in your pet.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
The most widely seen symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs are:
- Excessive howling, barking or whining
- Frequent indoor accidents or injury
- Unusual behavior like digging holes, chewing things, and random scratching
- Panting or drooling more than normal
- Urinating and defecating
- Escaping attempts
An anxious pet won’t show any of these symptoms while you’re caressing and spending time with them. However, they will start doing all these unusual things as soon as they see you leaving.
So the best way to detect these signs is to ask another family member to observe your pet for a day when you’re not home. Alternatively, you can also install security cameras to keep a check on their behavior.
How to Identify Separation Anxiety in Dogs?
Sometimes it gets really challenging to identify separation anxiety in dogs. That’s because some common health issues also have similar symptoms.
So before coming to any conclusion, you should consider other behavior problems as well.
- Some dogs usually urinate when they get excited, submissive, or are punished.
- Most young dogs and cats naturally have this habit of chewing random things in the house, commonly known as destructive chewing. Some even engage in digging holes and unusual scratching.
- Typically, pets want something to stay active and stimulated. So if they don’t get enough attention, care, or fun sessions from their owners, they start behaving differently out of boredom.
- Some dogs excessively bark or howl when certain factors in their surroundings trigger them.
That’s why it’s always better to consult a vet to know whether your pet is suffering from separation anxiety or any other health issue.
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6 Tips to Calm Down Your Anxious Pet
Separation anxiety gives both the owner and the pet a lot of stress. If you want to ease this tension between you and your furry friend, the first thing to do is visit your vet.
Sometimes, separation anxiety in a cat’s signs and symptoms can result from an underlying medical issue.
However, if that’s not the case, you can follow these tips and tricks to deal with separation anxiety in dogs at home.
1. Consistent Routine
Your pet won’t even notice your absence if you keep things the way they were in your presence. For example, if your dog has its meal at 3 pm, you should make it possible that someone (if not you) feeds it at the same time each day.
Moreover, if you used to take your pet out for a walk, you should try keeping it the same way even on your working day.
2. Make Them Used to Be Alone
Usually, a sudden absence of a certain family member becomes difficult for pets to adjust to. So, train your pet for some alone time by leaving them on their own for shorter durations daily.
For instance, you can leave them at home when going out for grocery shopping or a day out with friends. This way, they will get accustomed to being alone gradually and less stressfully.
3. Keep Them Happy
Dogs and cats really enjoy playing with stuffed toys and munching on delicious treats or chews. Therefore, you can keep your pet happy and engaged with interactive toys when you are with them.
Once they get used to it, they will stay entertained even while you’re gone.
Fortunately, you can easily find a wide variety of delicious dog chews, toys, and games in the market. So try any of them and keep your pet joyous and satisfied even in your absence.
4. Schedule a Playing Session
If you used to play with your pet a lot, a sudden change in this routine can bring abrupt changes in their behavior. So as soon as you get back home, try to give your pal the same amount of playtime like you used to do.
However, you can decrease the duration gradually until they get used to it.
5. Create Distractions
When you’re leaving home, you can turn on soothing music or TV to distract your pet’s attention from yourself. Dogs and cats really love watching other animals on screens. Plus, you can also try white noise to keep them calm.
6. Natural Calming Supplements
On the suggestion of your vet, you can also try some natural supplements, like CBD-infused products, to reduce the anxiety levels in your pet. Thankfully, multiple research studies have confirmed that CBD is effective for anxiety and safe to use.
Separation anxiety in dogs is more than just your pet’s way of getting your attention; it’s a cry for help.
Therefore, if you don’t go for effective separation anxiety in dogs treatment, you can make it even worse for your little friend. However, the tricks mentioned above can help you ease your pet’s mind quickly.
So try any of them and keep all the changes subtle until your pet gets used to your absence.