One of the most common categories of anxiety is Separation Anxiety which refers to the anxiety your pet feels when you are not there. Although with Covid, the two-legged animals in the family might also suffer some separation anxiety when we go back into the world again.
Dogs are meant to be part of a pack, which includes the humans in the family. So when they are left alone, a dog might accept the situation and rest all day or become anxious, whimpering, barking, howling, whining, panting, and even urinating or defecating inside the house. Other signs include refusing to eat, vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, drooling and excessive licking. The dog might even begin to destroy furniture or the garden in its frantic attempts to find its “pack”. And it’s that urgency and sense of panic that marks the difference between separation anxiety and poor house training, watchdog barking or playful destruction.
It can be difficult to know if your dog has separation anxiety, although a webcam and recorder can help you check once you’ve left the house. Sometimes it’s a neighbour who alerts you something is wrong because they hear the barking.
Cats can also suffer separation anxiety, though it’s far less common. However, they can be upset when their human or best friend is gone.
A cat with separation anxiety may be very clingy, following you around from room to room and when you head out of the house, it might try and get between you and the door, or sulk and hide. They can also vocalise when they are alone. They can refuse to eat, pee inappropriately, develop urinary tract problems, over groom and become destructive. They can even vomit when you’re gone.
Both cats and dogs will show over-enthusiastic greetings when you get home, which seems lovely but is a warning that their behaviour might not be all that balanced.
It’s important to seek veterinary advice to make sure your pet’s behaviour isn’t due to an underlying problem. If no medical problems are found then enriching the environment, modifying behaviour and using natural supplements can be very helpful.
Try Kelato’s ANXIETY CARE. It can be used to support your pet during times of stress, such as separation anxiety, travel, fireworks and more!
ANXIETY CARE is a proprietary, synergistic blend of natural plant-based nutraceuticals and phytochemicals formulated by vets to assist in the maintenance of calm behaviour and promote restful sleep in dogs and cats. It is palatable and concentrated which means you only need to feed a small amount daily.
Remember to minimise the emotions between leaving the house and coming home. When you are focused 100% of the time on your pet, this can worsen the problem as the difference between that attention and then nothing creates a huge emotional gap. Before leaving and when you return home, try to ignore the behaviour and not make eye contact. When the excitement settles, then reward calm behaviour with a short amount of equally calm attention. Minimal excitement. Enriching the environment can mean leaving a radio on, or the TV, providing a den or igloo and toys. If the behaviour persists despite all this, it might be necessary for your vet to try medication or refer you to a specialist behaviourist.
Now for human separation anxiety… a webcam and connecting to your pet throughout the day might help. Take videos and pictures of your pets to show your work friends and count the minutes until you are home!
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE? HEAD TO THE ANXIETY CARE PAGE, GET IN TOUCH ON 1800 KELATO OR EMAIL OUR TEAM AT PETCARE@KELATO.COM.AU.
Written for Broadreach Nature by In House Veterinary Expert Dr Barbara Fougere (BSc BVMS (Hons) MODT MHSc (Herb Med) BHSc (Comp Med) Adv Dip WHM, Grad Dip VCHM, Grad Dip VWHM, Grad Dip VA)
Dr Barbara Fougere graduated from Murdoch in 1986 and her integrative practice is based in Sydney Australia. She is a lead faculty member for the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies and lectures on integrative medicine all over the world.