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It is estimated that almost 15% of all dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a neurological distress response to being separated from a companion; in most situations this is the owner. Some signs of separation anxiety include:
- Excessive vocalization: Barking, howling, whining
- Inappropriate elimination: Urinating and/or defecating in inappropriate places
- Destructive behaviors: Chewing and/or digging
- Psychosomatic disorders: Anorexia, vomiting, drooling, excessive grooming
- Hyperattachment: Excessive greeting behaviors such as jumping, licking or pestering
Understanding separation anxiety is the key to treating it. Separation anxiety occurs when your dog has an unnatural bond to you. When you leave they feel their security has also left and begin to act inappropriately. Knowing that dogs are pack animals by nature helps us to understand this response to being left alone. This also explains why separation anxiety is most common among dogs than cats.
There are medications you can give your dog in conjunction with training which can treat separation anxiety. These medications increase the production of serotonin in the brain, which reduces the level of anxiety in your dog. When you give this medication it helps make your dog more receptive to training. Please note that medication alone is not a treatment for separation anxiety. It must be used in conjunction with training / desensitizing.
Please discuss your pet’s behaviors with your veterinarian. While doing so, please include any big life changes (i.e. moving, new baby or pet in the house, etc) since this will make a diagnosis more definitive.
For more information on training your pet, please visit or call our office at (510) 797-2323.