We all know that we are our pet’s absolute world and there is no better feeling than the unconditional love they provide us every day. But is there a time when this undying love becomes unhealthy? In a word – No. But there are circumstances in which your pet’s dependency and desire to be with you at all times can become very unhealthy.
Have you ever left for work for the day, only to come home to your lounge room torn into a million pieces?Or maybe heard your dog crying and whimpering uncontrollably if it has been separated from you for more than a couple of hours? These can be the symptoms of separation anxiety, and as endearing as some of this behaviour can be, it really isn’t healthy.
As a general rule, if your pet’s behaviour changes dramatically when left alone, then there may be an underlying case of separation anxiety.So, how do you know if your pet has separation anxiety?As there are many manifestations of this behaviour, we’ve listed a few below:
- Frantic when you’re preparing to leave: This isn’t because they’re psychic and they can “sense” when you’re about to leave.It’s more likely because you are displaying visual cues that you’re about to leave. These visual cues can include packing your bag, putting your shoes on or grabbing your car keys. Whatever it is, your pet may realise you’re going to leave and become frantic as they panic at the thought of being left alone.
- Barking, howling or whimpering: Is your dog making a racket when you close the door and start making your way down the street? The biggest indicator that this is due to being left alone and not triggered by something else is to observe whether it only happens when they are left alone.
- Destruction: It’s hard to stay mad at them for spreading the insides of your couch pillows all over the living room, especially when they look up at you with those puppy dog eyes. Regardless of the humour or cuteness attached to the act, this is a definite sign that your pet is suffering from separation anxiety. They might spare the couch, but will chew on the door frames, your favourite pair of shoes or the Vets on Call favourite (submitted by a client) – chewing through an entire kitchen’s newly installed cabinetry.
- Pacing: A little harder to pick up on, however if you are noticing that the front fence appears to be getting a well-worn track all along it, then your pet could be dealing with a severe case of separation anxiety.
Now that you know what symptoms to keep an eye out for, it’s worth taking a step back and talking about what can cause the onset of separation anxiety and how you can treat it so that your pet’s heart rate doesn’t go through the roof every time you put on your shoes. It is believed that separation anxiety can be caused by a number of reasons including:
- New family/guardian: A lot of rescued pets are traumatised by the loss of their “pack” and the thought of losing their new pack can cause them to develop anxiety.
- Change in schedule: If your pet is used to spending all day with you and suddenly you get a job that has you out of the house from 8am-8pm every day, this change can trigger the onset of anxiety.
- Change in residence:This can be a really confusing time for an animal and the change in environment may trigger anxiety, even if there are no significant changes to other areas of their lives.
Do you recognise these triggers and symptoms in your pet? Don’t worry, because we have good news.Separation anxiety is manageable and, in many cases, treatable. An important thing to remember is that simply adding a new pet to the situation for extra company may have absolutely no impact on your anxious pet. It is crucial to remember that your pet’s anxiety is due to the separation with you, not the rest of the world. You’re their world. So, if you believe your pet to be suffering from separation anxiety, have Vets on Call come and visit them at home. Your vet will be able to do an assessment on the severity of the anxiety, and based on their observation of the severity of the anxiety, they will create an action plan. This could be as simple as some minor behavioural training through to a personalised desensitising program or medication for the most severe cases.
We get pets for the unrivalled love and companionship they offer and we at Vets on Call understand that you want to be the best pet owner you can be. Living in stress and anxiety is no way to live, that’s why removing all the stress and anxiety from the lives of Australia’s pets is one of the core functions of Vets on Call. This leads to much better healthcare outcomes and longevity of life for our pets. Who doesn’t want that?
If you’re concerned about your pet’s anxiety or behaviour,then book a home consultation with Vets on Call through the Vets on Call mobile app and be the best pet owner you can be.