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Separation Anxiety anyone?

This month I will discuss a behavioral issue that sometimes is exhibited by our furry friends. This problem can be complicated and there is too much information to present in this small space, so if you recognize a member of your household in the following paragraphs, get in touch with your veterinarian so that you all can make a plan of action.

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. It’s not warm when she’s away, ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, she’s always gone too long, any time she goes away. Bill Withers could not have described separation anxiety in our pets any better than that. (Furthermore, I am certain that this was what he was attempting to do when he wrote that song).

Is your bundle of love destroying the yard and house and everything in it when you leave him alone (chewing, digging)? Is he barking or whining continuously, solidifying your good relationship with the next-door-neighbor? Is he leaving you little odiferous presents around the house while you are gone? Does he follow on your heels from room to room and become visibly upset when you get ready to leave? Does he greet you in an over-enthusiastic manner when you return?

If your answer is, YES, yes, yes. Doctor please help now! Then there is an excellent chance that your pet is suffering from separation anxiety.

A pet suffering from separation anxiety is tormented much in the same way a human feels during a panic attack. The roots of the problem are not always easy to target, but the important thing is that there now are effective treatments for most cases of separation anxiety. Treatment requires specific guidelines for interacting with your dog. It requires that you teach him to become less anxious when you depart. Punishments that may increase his anxiety, such as inappropriate scolding for destructive behavior, must be avoided. There are medications for the treatment of this condition. Note they’re not sedatives or tranquilizers and don’t affect your pet’s personality or memory. What they will do is relieve your pet’s anxiety and help make it easier to learn new positive behaviors. I have seen improvement about a month after starting treatment in combination with behavior modification techniques. Granted, they are not magic pills effort on both your part as well as your pet’s doctor is necessary to relieve your dog’s anxiety. If you feel that your pet may suffer from this problem, know that there is help available!

If you have any dog health related questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until next time.

Dr. Grif Haber is a fifth generation Nashvillian. Dashing he parents’ hopes that he would become a “real doctor,” he earned his veterinary degree at Purdue University in 1972 and established Murphy Road Animal Hospital P.C. in 1977. With a heart for rescue, he founded Love at First Sight! Puppy and Kitten Adoption Center in 1995 that has since placed thousands of abandoned puppies and kittens into loving homes.

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