Separation anxiety in pets can intensify when the kids go back to school. Welcome home! You step inside your house after a few hours out expecting a warm welcome from your pet. Instead, you find that your dog has chewed your rug, or your cat has eliminated on your bed! Are your pets angry at you for leaving? Likely not.

It’s possible that feelings of anxiety and fear at being left alone are at the root of your pet’s behavior. Separation anxiety is a one of the top contributing factors for behavior problems in pets.

The Pet Experts have some tips on how to recognize and resolve separation anxiety in pets.  

Separation Anxiety in Pets

Simply put, separation anxiety means that your pet feels fearful and anxious when separated from you. These fears manifest themselves in a number of ways, including:

  • House soiling
  • Destructive behavior
  • Incessant barking or yowling
  • Drooling, panting, or inability to settle/ restlessness
  • Trying to escape the house (chewing, clawing, or climbing exit points)

Separation anxiety in pets can also manifest as moping or depressed behavior.

First Things First

Whether you have a new pet or a pet that is experiencing behavior changes, please bring them in to see us to evaluate whether or not the behavior is rooted in a medical problem. For example, eliminating outside the litter box in cats could be caused by a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or other diseases such as diabetes. Inappropriate elimination can also be caused by litter box issues, such as not enough litter boxes in multiple cat households, so we’ll talk about ways to make the litter box more enticing to your cat.

Once medical issues are ruled out, we can help you identify the sources of stress and talk about a plan to alleviate separation anxiety in your pet.

How to Help

There are a number of ways that you can help your pets with their separation anxiety. It’s a complex problem to address though, so please don’t hesitate to call us or come in for a consultation. Separation anxiety is often best addressed by your veterinarian in combination with a professional dog trainer or pet behaviorist.

  • Ensure your pet is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation
  • Try to make the experience of your departure and return to the house less stimulating
  • Make sure your pet has comfort objects while you’re gone; toys, food puzzles, and a sweatshirt with your smell may all comfort her
  • Make sure the environment your pet is left in is safe. A small but open area is often best, as some pets panic at being confined.
  • Manage anxiety provoking situations. You may need to manage how long your pet is left alone until you can build up her tolerance at being left. Doggy day care or a pet sitter can be helpful in these situations.
  • Consider prescribed medication to help her with additional training and management

There is no one size fits all remedy for separation anxiety in pets, as each pet’s individual history, fears, environment, and personality play a significant role in their treatment.  

Pets with separation anxiety are in many cases capable of significant improvement with careful management, training, and possibly medication. Of course, we recommend regular exercise for both cats and dogs, and plenty of love and attention from you, too!

Having these issues addressed in the most timely manner possible is important to avoid the pet hurting herself, especially if she’s attempting to escape. Please give us a call at Elmhurst Animal Care Center if you’re worried about separation anxiety in pets; we’re here to help!