Separation Anxiety in Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats are perceptive animals that react to stimulus they’ve experienced in the past. Grabbing your car keys or packing a suitcase become recognized beha viors that let your pet know you’re leaving.
When some dogs and cats realize they are being left alone, they exhibit distress and occasional destructive behavior—a condition known as separation anxiety disorder.
While it’s not completely understood why this happens in some dogs and cats, it is diagnosed as part of a panic response. This behavior is not “punishment” to you for leaving your beloved pet alone, which is a common misconception.
Overtime, dogs can learn to understand calming cues, and many eventually learn to distract themselves without destroying household items or breaking housetraining.
Additionally, herbal supplements can curb feelings of anxiety and help calm dogs and cats that suffer from separation anxiety disorder.
What are the signs my cat or dog has separation anxiety disorder?
Separation anxiety primarily occurs when your pet is left alone, and usually starts soon after you leave. Dogs and cats that have this problem display behavior such as:
- Constantly following you when you’re home
- Effusive, overenthusiastic greetings
- Anxious and frantic behavior even when left alone for only short-periods of time
- Overexcitement, fear, or depression when you prepare to leave the house
Dogs and cats that are accustomed to having owners present can develop separation anxiety when left alone for the first time. Also, a new experience like being left in a kennel or the loss of a familiar person can trigger this disorder.
What can I do about separation anxiety in my dog or cat?
To curb this problem, your pet must readjust their reaction to cues that stimulate the anxiety and develop an awareness that when you leave you will also return.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, punishment, obedience training, or crating will not help separation anxiety disorder. Likewise, distractions such as noise from a T.V. or the presence of another dog are not a replacement for you, and may not lessen the separation anxiety issue.
Instead, establishing predictable routines, cues, and maintaining calm behavior will have more impact. Other helpful actions include:
Confining your pet to one room where they feel comfortable and that limits the opportunity for destructive behavior
- Leaving chew toys, rawhides, or other distractive items to safely occupy your pet
- Creating a safety cue, such as a physical or vocal command, that communicates to your pet that you will return
- Leaving dirty laundry in the room as an olfactory cue
- Wearing your dog out with exercise prior to leaving
Treatment - Medication for Separation Anxiety in Dogs and Cats
There some medications a vet can prescribe to help with separation anxiety, but you must be careful to use something that calms the behavior without sedation.
Herbal supplements fit with a holistic approach that seeks to curb anxiety and tension. This can allow your pet to more easily cope with and change their reaction to your absence.
These natural remedies are somewhat like giving you pet a cup of herb tea with chamomile, passion flower, or ginger, along with a vitamin and mineral supplement. They support the nervous system and produce a calming effect, naturally lowering anxiety to help moderate unrestrained behavior brought on by conditions like separation anxiety disorder.
Medications for Pets with Separation Anxiety and other fears
Quiet Moments tablets for dogs
Quiet Moments Spray for Cats
Rescue Remedy for Pets
For information about other behavior problems in pets, click here.
PetCalm by PetAlive
PetCalm is a homeopathic remedy that can help pets with separation anxiety, nervousness and phobias. It is fast acting and easy to adminster -- sprinkle the granules in your pet's mouth where they quickly disolve and begin to soothe your pet's nerves. Great to have on hand for stressful situations such as thunder, fireworks, new additions to the family, and separation anxiety.
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Quiet Moments by NaturVet
Recommended to help support the nervous system in reducing stress and tension caused by traveling, grooming, thunderstorms, 4th of July, and other loud noises.
Contains Chamomile, Passion Flower, L-Tryptophan, Ginger and Vitamin B-1. Click on the link below and read the Details section to learn how these natural ingredients reduce stress and induce relaxation.
Quiet Moments tablets are for dogs only.
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Quiet Moments Spray for Cats
NaturVet Quiet Moments Spray, a natural calming remedy for cats is recommended to help support the nervous system in reducing stress and tension. Helps with separation anxiety and thunderstorm fears.
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Sedaplus from Thorne Research
Sedaplus contains several botanicals to sooth the nervous system, including Valerian, Hops, Chamomile and Passion Flower. This product may also be used to help pets cope with stressful situations such as traveling, separation anxiety, and loud noises.
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Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Essences
Rescue Remedy, made by Bach Flower Essence is a natural calming solution that has safely tamed the anxiety of pets and animals for many years. Veterinarians routinely use Research Remedy to calm dogs before examining them. It is also used in animals to decrease stress due to situations such as thunderstorms, traveling, and fireworks.
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