Does Your Pet Have Separation Anxiety?
Pets form an emotional attachment to their owners, and when they do not want to be left alone, they may suffer from separation anxiety. Some pet owners have difficulty leaving their pets at home alone out of fear of what their pet might do to the house as a result of separation anxiety.
What are the Signs of Separation Anxiety?
Pets usually react to being left alone within 45 minutes after their owner leaves. Common signs that a pet has separation anxiety are:
- Meowing, barking or crying to get their owner to return
- Dogs may try to escape the house by digging by the door
- Both cats and dogs may urinate on the floor or furniture
- Pets may vomit when their owner is not at home
- Pets will also chew up furniture or anything they can get their paws on
What Causes Pets to Have Separation Anxiety?
It has not been established yet what really causes separation anxiety in pets. When a pet destroys a house, it is not the animal's way of getting even with the owner; they destroy things because they feel stressed and panicked. Animals may suffer from separation anxiety when:
- A pet is accustomed to plenty of human contact and is then left alone for the first time
- An animal is taken away from its mother too early
- Pets are boarded in a kennel while owners are away
- A beloved member of the household leaves for a long period of time such as college or deployment
How Can the Owner Tell if Their Pet has Separation Anxiety?
It is important to determine whether a pet actually has separation anxiety. This can be done by taking note of what the animal does around the house. If you see the following signs, your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety:
- The signs mentioned above occur only when the pet is left alone
- The pet becomes really excited when their owner arrives home
- Dogs do not enjoy spending time outdoors by themselves
- When you are home, your pet will follow you around the house
Behaviors to Avoid if a Pet has Separation Anxiety
Avoid certain behaviors when dealing with separation anxiety in your pet. Some of these behaviors may actually increase your pet's separation anxiety:
- After the dog or cat destroys the house, they should not be punished because it will not affect their future behavior
- Adding pets in the house will not help with separation anxiety because they will still be attached to the owner
- Putting a pet in a crate while gone will not stop it from reacting; the pet will simply react in the crate, such as urinating or crying
- Leaving the television or radio on does not ease their anxiety from separation
Solutions for a Pet's Separation Anxiety
When a pet owner suspects their pet has separation anxiety, it is important to talk with a veterinarian about the problem. The veterinarian may suggest techniques such as ignoring your pet for the first few minutes home or leaving something that smells like the owner with your pet to comfort them. Seek out books and web sites with step by step guides to ease your pet's separation anxiety. Feel confident that you and your pet can overcome this obstacle for a happy and healthy lifetime companionship!
Photo Credit: pt