What is separation anxiety?
If you are a dog owner, it is likely you have heard the term ‘separation anxiety’ before. Separation anxiety is a behavioural term for when dogs become stressed and frantic whenever they are left home alone. It is a well-known fact that dogs are pack animals and thrive being part of a pack. Although dogs are now domesticated, this group mentality hasn’t changed, so most dogs prefer it when their humans are home and the ‘pack’ is together. Different breeds of dog can be more-or-less prone to experiencing separation anxiety and dogs who have come from rescue situations may also fall into this category.
Using our Vet Know-How gained from our in-house Vet’s Klinic we have pulled together information to help you and your dog through some of the issues separation anxiety can cause.
What behaviours will dogs experiencing separation anxiety display?
Dogs who are experiencing separation anxiety may show any of the following behaviours when left alone:
- Vocalisation such as howling or barking
- Destructive behaviour such as scratching walls and doors, or chewing furniture and other items
- Going to the toilet indoors
- Hyper salivating or panting
- Increased heart and respiration rate
These behaviours are caused by stress and anxiety triggered by you leaving the house and can be very distressing for both us and our dogs.
How do you prevent dogs from developing separation anxiety usually?
There are always going to be situations where you need to leave your dog at home on their own. So, the real trick is starting early and getting your dog (or puppy) used to being left from the moment you bring them home. This way when you do need to leave the house it becomes normal and know you’ll return. To begin, try leaving your dog in a different room, if only for a few minutes.
Vet Know How Tip
Try our Vet Know How boredom busters for dogs using our Vet’s Kitchen™ Little Stars dog treats, or a toy that they love. When you come back into the room don’t make a fuss of your dog, this needs to feel normal.
Build this up for longer periods – now it’s time to start leaving the house. Choose the same place to leave your dog whilst they’re getting used to be alone, this might be a crate for puppies, a certain room or the whole house. The main messages here are to start as you mean to go on. On your return put your bag, keys, shoes away as normal before giving your pup attention.
Do cats get separation anxiety in the same way as dogs?
Cats are solitary animals by nature, and most will have relationships with their owners and other family members ‘on their terms’. So, cats have a whole different perspective on lockdown. They may feel more claustrophobic and stressed because they are not getting periods of solitary time that they are used to. The Vet Know-how team told us that, like dogs, we can do similar things to help.
Vet Know How Tip
Give your cat an area in the house where they are able to go where they won’t be disturbed by you, children or other animals if you can. Placing a cat pheromone diffuser here can also help. Your cat will appreciate time alone so if you are able to leave the house it could be a good idea. Pets do need mental stimulation too, so check out our blog on boredom busters for cats and dogs for tips on ways to keep your cat mentally stimulated.
When normality returns
Like everyone else, we’re eager to get back to our normal routines but in the meantime following a few of the tips in this blog might make the transition back to work a little easier, for them at least.
Don’t forget, if you are isolating, we can deliver delicious nutritious Vet’s Kitchen™ pet food to your door, order online today.