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Separation Anxiety in Your Pet

Knowledgebase

Causes of Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety is the fear of being away from a carer. Several factors may contribute to the development of separation anxiety in pets:

  • Sudden changes in routine or environment
  • Previous traumatic experiences, such as abandonment or prolonged confinement
  • Lack of socialisation or exposure to being alone
  • Genetic predisposition

Separation Anxiety is commonly recognised in dogs and cats, in varying forms, and can result in unwanted behaviours including:

  • Excessive barking/noise
  • Destructive behavior
  • Inappropriate toileting
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Excessive drooling or panting
  • Attempts to escape or excessively cling to the owner when they are preparing to leave

    If you have identified that your pet is displaying any of the above behaviours, or you have some concerns, please book a Behavioural Consultation. Our Vets specialise in Separation Anxiety and work in conjunction with you to determine the best way to support your pet through this behaviour.

    Behaviour Modifying Training Tools

    Fortunately, there are several strategies pet owners can employ to help their furry friends cope with separation anxiety.
    Providing mental stimulation and keeping pets occupied when you are not home is a great and simple way to redirect their anxiety and improve behaviour and well-being.
    Food dispensing toys are a great way to keep dogs and cats entertained and mentally stimulated. They provide a challenge that can help pets stay engaged and focused, as well as offering a reward for their efforts.
    Some enrichment ideas to keep your pet busy when you are not home are:

    • Lick mats
    • Kongs or puzzle toys
    • A digging pit with hidden goodies to discover in the day
    • Doc and Phoebe Hunting toy for cats

    Gradually accustom your pet to being alone by practicing short departures and slowly increasing the duration over time. This can help reduce their anxiety and build their confidence.
    Establishing a consistent daily routine can provide a sense of security for your pet. Stick to regular feeding times, walks, and play sessions to help reduce anxiety.
    Creating a safe space for your pet to retreat to when you’re not home. This could be a cozy bed or a favourite spot where they feel safe and relaxed.
    Synthetic pheromone products, such as ADAPTIL for dogs or FELIWAY for cats, are designed to promote a sense of calm and reduce anxiety in pets. These products come in various forms, including diffusers, collars, and sprays.

    If you are concerned about your pet’s behaviour, and have not seen a change after implementing some behavioural tools, please book a Behavioural Consultation.

    Neutraceuticals, Supplements and Pharmaceuticals

    ZYLKENE is a capsule that contains Casein, the amino acid identified in inducing the sense of calm experienced after a warm mild drink or by babies who are milk drunk. It is a safe medication that can be used long-term or just in situations where anxiety can be anticipated.

    TRYPTOPHAN is used by the body to produce serotonin (a “happy feeling” neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a sleep inducing hormone). By supplementing this amino acid utilised in the neurological pathway, Tryptophan is thought to have anti-anxiety and calming effects. It is found in Blackmore PAW Complete Calm Chews for dogs.

    If your pet is showing severe signs of behavioural disorder, as a last resort the Veterinarian may prescribe a period of behavioural modifying medications. Medication can support pets with high levels of anxiety to learn new training techniques, allowing them to switch off and relax. For dogs with dangerous behaviours, or who are at risk of more serious medical consequences, early use of these medications can be imperative to success.

    Conclusion

    Separation anxiety can be distressing for both pets and their owners, but with patience, understanding, and proactive management, it can be effectively managed. By recognising the signs of separation anxiety, identifying potential triggers, and implementing appropriate strategies, pet owners can help their furry companions feel more secure and confident when left alone. Remember, addressing separation anxiety requires time and consistency, but with dedication, you can help your pet lead a happier and more relaxed life.

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