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.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in PetsSeparation 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.
Tips to Help Pets with Separation Anxiety
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
Supplements 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.