How To Treat Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

No more anxious thoughts 🤟

If you think your dog has separation anxiety, you’re probably wondering how your vet might treat it.

According to Dr. Andrea Tu, medical director of Behavior Vets of New York, if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety symptoms, the first step is to talk to your veterinarian to see what she recommends as treatment, which might include a combination of medications, calming products or behavioral training.

So you know what to expect at your vet visit, The Dodo reached out to Dr. Tu, to find out what vets typically recommend for treating separation anxiety in dogs.

Dog anxiety medication


If your dog has severe separation anxiety symptoms, your vet might prescribe her an anti-anxiety medication.

“For more severe and more frequent cases, anxiety is usually treated with one or more medications to help reduce distress and physiological arousal, environmental changes to reduce the distressing characteristics of a scary event, and behavior modification aimed at improving the patient's confidence in the scary situation,” Dr. Walter Burghardt, a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, told The Dodo.

Build your dog’s confidence


If your pup is experiencing more mild separation anxiety symptoms, this can usually be helped by building your pup’s confidence — all with the advice from your vet or dog behaviorist.

Ways to help build your dog’s confidence can include things like:

Positive reinforcement training


Positive reinforcement training teaches your dog that doing the right thing will get her all kinds of goodies, like yummy treats and extra pets. Rewarding your dog on walks and through other forms of training will help her be more confident, even when you’re not around.

Dog enrichment toys


Even doing something as simple as giving your dog a food puzzle can help her build confidence by allowing her to put her brain (and nose!) to work.

You can use a food puzzle like this one from Amazon for $12.50

Calming products


You can also try using some calming products to help calm down your anxious dog, like:

This Adaptil Calming Spray from Amazon for $22.70
This ThunderShirt from Amazon for $33.87
These calming supplements from Amazon for $16.50

Distraction


Believe it or not, your dog can totally predict when you’re about to bolt out the door. So if you notice that your dog starts to panic whenever you start putting on your makeup, it’s probably a good idea to try and distract her from even noticing.
In these cases, have some high-value treats and toys ready to go.

Like this KONG from Amazon for $10.99

Pro Tip: Fill the KONG with your dog’s favorite treats so that she’s super excited to play with it.

Avoid giving her attention when she’s anxious


You can make sure you aren’t giving in to her anxious behavior by not giving her a grand “goodbye” when you leave or “hello” when you return home — no matter how difficult that is for you to do!

Instead, try to just slip out the door without her seeing you, and when you get back, avoid giving her attention until she calms down.

With these most common treatments and tips, your dog should feel way more confident when you’re away — and hopefully that makes you feel better, too.

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