The growing array of apps and cameras available to pet owners to monitor their pets alone time is growing all the time and reflects an interest in the well-being of our pets when we can't be around. A healthy concern amongst many pet owners is how their absence may affect their pet and whether their cat or dog experiences separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety can cause behavioural problems in dogs and cats and as behavioural problems are the number one reason that cats and dogs are euthanized I felt it important to put some information out that may help increase an owner's knowledge of this increasingly talked about subject.
Some key facts about separation anxiety in cats and dogs
- Cats and dogs of all ages and breeds can have or develop separation anxiety
- Separation anxiety in cats and dogs can be prevented or cured.
- Having more than one pet is no guarantee that your pet won't be anxious when an owner is absent...we're talking about anxiety not loneliness.
- A pet can develop anxiety gradually.
- Some pets can develop separation anxiety after a period of boarding.
- Pets with separation anxiety often get worse rather than better without help.
- Separation anxiety in pets is generally at its worst in the first 15 minutes that an owner has left home and in some cases can persist during the whole time that an owner is absent.
Something I find particularly interesting is that some owners think that the introduction of another pet will alleviate anxiety in their pets. Studies have shown that it is the removal of an owners companionship that is most likely to be the root cause. That said, the removal of a pet companion can cause anxiety too and highlights the complexity of separation anxiety and the importance of establishing the route cause or trigger.
Common separation anxiety behaviours such as destroying furniture, barking, howling and scratching in an owners absence should be seen as a cue to investigate for the root cause of a pets anxiety and not as a punishable offence. Looking for the cause, being aware of behaviour changes at an early stage and being prepared to consult a veterinarian or behavioural expert to help alleviate the anxiety suffered by a pet is the kindest and best advice an owner can take.
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