Don’t let Anxiety be your Pet’s Valentine
By Dr. Meegan Weiler, Veterinarian
Valentine’s Day. Love it, hate it or couldn’t care less it happens every year. Thoughts of roses, chocolate, a special date and anxiety. Yep, anxiety. If you’re alone on this holiday it can cause some anxious feelings, and if you leave your anxiety ridden dog alone while you go on that special date you may come home to rose petals strewn around your house that were not placed there by your Valentine. Sound familiar? If not, consider yourself very lucky. If so, this blog is for you. I bet you thought I was going to talk about chocolate toxicity right? I figure most people know that chocolate is toxic for pets but anxiety in pets is a less addressed, but very common issue.
Separation anxiety is different than generalized anxiety in that your pet only freaks out when you leave. Symptoms include panting, drooling, pacing, urinating, defecating and howling. In severe cases they will chew and paw at doors and windows. The aforementioned dog once chewed through a bathroom screen and jumped out. Luckily only first floor height.
So what can you do to try to help avoid a situation where you come home and find your beloved rescue tangled in wooden blinds that he has chewed to bits? First, you medicate them. Seriously. These dogs need extra help to learn that you are actually coming back. Then start the behavior modification. There are whole books devoted to this, but a few simple things you can do are: do not make it a big deal when you get home!! This only reinforces that it was bad you left in the first place. Make sure they have had lots of exercise before you head out. A tired dog is a good dog. Give them a long lasting treat like a kong filled with frozen low fat, low sodium chicken broth, a bully stick, or a food puzzle toy.
And lastly, schedule an appointment to come talk to us so together we can work on a plan to help your dog not get arrested at animal control after he breaks out of the front door trying to find you.