Separation Anxiety

Canines and felines experience separation anxiety for very different reasons and exhibit very different symptoms. Cats may feel anxious after being separated from their mother, from early weaning, or when purchased from a pet store. A dog might begin experiencing separation anxiety after a change in ownership or a serious alteration in their owner’s routine or schedule. Shelter dogs also experience anxiety, because rescue animals live in constant fear of abandonment. Some degree of separation anxiety is estimated to occur in about 30% of all dogs, making it one of the most prevalent disorders among canines; however, it is so uncommon in cats that until recently, it was thought to be non-existent.

To eliminate the fears of separation anxiety, gradual behavior modification is necessary. With the help of our staff and your dedication and commitment, we can build a treatment plan that helps your pet enjoy or tolerate being left alone, easing their grief and yours.

Indications of a dog with separation anxiety:

  • Barking or howling when owner leaves. 
  • Chewing up things in owner’s absence. 
  • Consuming feces only in owner’s absence. 
  • Digging in owner’s absence. 
  • Dog is overly excited when owner gets home. 
  • Escaping confinement when owner isn’t present. 
  • Exhibiting obsessive compulsive disorder. 
  • Need to be by owner’s side constantly.

Symptoms of a cat with separation anxiety: 

  • Having “accidents” outside of the litter box in their owner’s absence. 
  • Hiding in owner’s absence. 
  • Needing to be in owner’s presence. 
  • Refusing to eat. 
  • Vomiting in owner’s absence.

Treatment options for separation anxiety:

Persistence with any treatment plan is critical. Working alongside our veterinarian, we can form a customized behavior modification plan that allows you to gradually train your pet to be self-sufficient, calming their anxiety. In cases of moderate-to-severe separation anxiety, we might suggest prescription medication to supplement training. Prescriptions will be tapered off once pets start to show improvements in behavior and begin accepting the training process.

For severe canine separation anxiety, we recommend pet owners taking their dogs to a doggie daycare or hiring a pet sitter. Many times having some attention, even if it isn’t from the pet owner, takes a dog’s mind off of the owner being away. While the cost of a caregiver can be expensive, it could potentially outweigh the cost of expensive damage caused by an anxious dog left alone.

No matter the case, punishment should never be used on a pet with separation anxiety. This will only increase their anxiety and cause them to act out more. Similarly, frantic, hyper pets should never be awarded with attention immediately after an owner gets home; let pets settle down before rewarding them with attention, letting them know that they will only receive acknowledgement when they are calm and quiet.

If you have questions regarding separation anxiety or would like to enroll your pet in behavior modification classes, please contact our veterinary office at your convenience.


Read what people are saying about us.

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We took our 5 month old puppy in to get neutered today and had a great experience. They educate you on expenses without making you feel guilty if you decide against extra options. We were able to pick him up 5 hours after dropping him off which was also amazing. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a vet.

Chelsea G.'s

Dr. Genova has been my 4 legged daughter's doctor for her whole life (10 years). He is very personable, informative and kind. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about him.. Why else would I trust him to take care of my baby girl?

The rest of the staff is also very kind. Most of them have changed throughout the years but one thing that hasn't is that you can immediately tell how much they all love animals.

This is definitely one of this places that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to.

John L.

We had our first experience at Village at Main Veterinary Hospital today and I couldn't wait to write a review because of how pleased I was with the entire staff and environment. I arrived way early for my appointment but they took me anyway since it was open with no problem at all. As soon as we walked in the door my puppy and I were greeted with smiles and even staff that didn't run the counter came out and greeted and loved on my puppy as well which really put her at ease. Every staff member acknowledged our presence at some point. We were taken back to an exam room and we saw Dr. Tran who was warm and loving toward my puppy, she really took her time and you could easily see that she loves what she does. Dr. Tran covered all of my questions I had planned to ask as well as asked if I had any others. I would highly recommend this clinic to anybody who has had a bad experience at another clinic because it will totally make up for it as it did in our case. Thank you so much again for making us feel right at home and loving what you guys do, I will continue to drive 30 minutes just to have my pooch continue to see you guys :)

Tiffany B.

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