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Posted on 02-01-2013

There is a saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder". For some this may be true, for others absence means tearing apart the house. While at home, your furry friend is the ultimate sidekick: lying by your feet, lounging with you on the couch and following you everywhere. The moment you leave, your trusty sidekick turns into a problem child who forgets everything they know; soiling the house, barking and destroying furniture. No, they are not trying to get back at you for leaving. Instead they are trying to cope with the fact that you are gone.Alyson_Separation_2_1.JPG

Separation anxiety may be a part of your pet's nature or may have been brought on by a traumatic experience or alteration that has happened in their life. For these pet's, it may be more difficult to accept changes in their environment. These pet's will cling to their owners and panic when they leave the house to do their daily routines. Over-bonding can also be a culprit for creating separation anxiety. Pets should not spend every waking minute with their owner; following them everywhere, sharing the same piece of furniture, etc. Pets should have their own independence.

To help prevent separation anxiety there are some things that pet owners can do. When first getting a puppy, kitten or adopted pet, take small trips throughout the day without them, gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone, but reducing the frequency. This way, while you leave for a full day of work, your pet will be used to you being away for long periods of time when leaving your house. Create a positive environment for your new pet. Give them a treat stuffed with peanut butter or something else they like. This will keep them busy and distracted when you leave the house. Since your pet watches every thing you do, they quickly learn that picking your keys up means you are leaving the house, which triggers separation anxiety. To avoid this, owners can mimic their departure actions (get keys, put coat on), but then don't leave; sit on the couch and watch TV. This will keep your pet wondering when you will actually be leaving.

Alyson_Seperation_1.JPGIf your pet is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, it is not the end of the world! There are things to help avoid worsening the situation. When you come home from a long day at work to a house that has had some "moderations" to your furniture, do not punish them. Your pet will make no connection between your anger and the decorating they did earlier, so punishing them will not help. In severe cases of separation anxiety, medications can be provided. If a pet is causing injury to itself trying to escape the home while it's owner is away, then veterinary care should be sought. There are FDA approved medications that will help calm your pet down that can be prescribed. An important note to remember is that separation anxiety can be treated for pets of all ages by using behavior modification and/ or anti anxiety medication.

If you have further questions regarding separation anxiety, please contact us at Eagle Animal Hospital (610)458-8789. We serve Chester Springs, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore and the surrounding areas.

Written by Alyson Kelly, technician

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