These 7 Signs Might Mean Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
And how to help her 🤟
Do you think your dog might have separation anxiety?
While all dogs tend to be a little clingy, separation anxiety means your dog gets super stressed out whenever you leave the house.
It can be a little annoying to your neighbors if your dog has been barking for hours while you’re out, and it’s also really sad to think that your pup is that anxious and scared when left alone.
“What separation anxiety actually is is a true panic,” Dr. Andrea Tu, medical director of Behavior Vets of New York, told The Dodo. “It’s not just ‘I’m being difficult.’”
To know if your dog has heightened anxiety when you’re gone, it’s a good idea to learn what signs to look out for.
These are some of the most common signs that your dog has separation anxiety, according to Dr. Tu.
The most common sign of separation anxiety, barking when you’re out of the house, usually means that your dog’s feeling anxious.
If you (or your neighbors) have heard your dog howling when you’re out, she’s probably trying to let the world know that she’s missing you.
If you’re unsure if your dog is barking or howling when she’s home alone, a pet camera with barking detection can help you keep tabs.
She’s having accidents inside
Anxious pups tend to have accidents. If you come home and notice your dog has soiled the house, she’s not doing it to spite you — she was probably feeling really worried and couldn’t hold it in.
She’s causing destruction
Have you ever come home to your pillows ripped apart or garbage all over the place? Destruction is a common indicator of separation anxiety — even when your dog is proud of the mess she made.
She’s not eating
While most dogs won’t eat without you anyway, a loss of appetite (even when you’re together) is another indicator that your dog is feeling anxious when you’re not around.
Drooling is a sign of anxiety in dogs. If you come home to a panicked pup who can’t seem to stop drooling, odds are she was totally distressed when you were out.
Panting is another sign of anxiety in pups (when not caused by the environment or exercise).
How to treat separation anxiety in dogs
If you think that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, the first step is to talk to your veterinarian to see what she recommends.
Your veterinarian might suggest some of these ways to help your dog:
Dog anxiety medication
If your dog has really bad separation anxiety symptoms, your vet might recommend a prescription 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.
Desensitizing your dog
If your vet thinks your pup is experiencing more mild separation anxiety symptoms, this can usually be treated by desensitizing your dog and working on building your pup’s confidence — all with the help and advice from your vet, trainer or dog behaviorist.
You can also try some tried and true tricks to help calm down an anxious dog, like:
According to Dr. Tu, your dog is very sensitive to your movements, so odds are she knows when you’re about to leave the house. “I’ve had some patients where they will start to panic when the owner goes to take a shower because they know that next thing, in half an hour, you’re out the door,” Dr. Tu said.
In these cases, it’s a good idea to have some high-value treats and toys ready to go to help distract your pup from your every movement.
Not giving her attention when she’s anxious
Try not to give your dog a grand “goodbye” when you leave or “hello” when you return home — no matter how difficult that is for you to do!
Instead, just slip out the door without letting her know. And when you get back, avoid giving her attention until she calms down.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, contact your vet to see what you can do to help her feel better.
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