Separation Anxiety

You've likely been spending lots of time at home during the pandemic, and no doubt your dog has enjoyed this quality time with you. If like many, you've welcomed a new furry family member into your home during this period, they'll be very used to having you around most of the time. This poses a challenge for our pets when they start spending more time alone. Some dogs may take these new changes to their routine fine. But for other pets, it could bring about separation anxiety, which can be very distressing for dogs and owners alike.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common yet most underdiagnosed behavioural problems in dogs. The clinical signs of excessive barking, howling, destruction, self-mutilation, urination, and defecation can significantly affect both dogs and owners. Luckily, veterinarians understand separation anxiety, and there are treatment options available to manage this condition and improve the quality of life for your special furry family member.

Separation anxiety is distress experienced on separation from you as the owner(s). Anxiety is the "anticipation of future danger or misfortune" – Dr K Seksel. Dogs are social animals, and it is normal for a puppy to become attached to their litter and then subsequently to the human family that becomes their home.

Some dogs do not adjust to being without their owners and develop separation distress. Some dogs may become destructive or vocalise if under-stimulated and not provided with the appropriate physical exercise and mental stimulation. However, signs of separation anxiety become apparent when they are linked to the owner's departures or absence, when they cannot gain access to them and when they cannot adjust to their absences over time. These dogs are anxious and are not "acting out" or trying to spite their owners; they are having a difficult time and need help.

Pay attention to your dog's behaviour before you leave the house. Some possible signs to look for are:

• Signs of distress, especially when your dog sees cues that you are leaving like picking up keys, putting on shoes or applying make-up
• Following you around unusually
• Pacing
• Try desperately to go with you
• Reacting to noises unusually
• House soiling
• Panting and drooling
• Freezing
• Barking
• Scratching
• Other signs of distress

Some possible signs of separation anxiety while you're away from your dog include coming home to:

• Digging in the garden
• Destructive behaviours around the house
• Trying to escape
• Reports from neighbours of repetitive barking, whining or howling
• House soiling

If you notice any of these signs of separation anxiety, please speak to your veterinarian. Depending on the case, they may refer you to a veterinarian with further qualifications in behaviour or a veterinary behaviour specialist. Go prepared for your Vet consult with a thorough understanding of your dog's history, routine, and any changes to their routine that could be causing the anxiety.

Things your Vet may recommend to address your pet's separation anxiety:

• The use of calming pheromones, like Adaptil diffusers, sprays or collars
• Encouraging independence through positive reinforcement exercises
• Creating a structured and predictable routine for your dog
• Make departures and arrivals low-key (calmly speaking to your dog, but not ignoring them completely)
• Offering your dog food puzzles, long-lasting chews, and feeding devices to give your dog something to enjoy while you're away
• A focus on physical exercise and mental stimulation – a tired dog will be more likely to relax while when you're gone
• Desensitisation and counterconditioning to cues that hint you are leaving the home
• Enriching their environment – leave the radio on to make the house feel less quiet and empty. Make sure they have access to their favourite bed and toys.
• Medication or supplements to address the underlying anxiety

It is essential that a puppy or dog can cope with being left alone. In our busy lives, it's unrealistic to be with them 24/7, so separation anxiety needs to be addressed with your veterinarian. It may be a journey to help your distressed friend to find comfort on their own, but there are options available to help. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety, please give your local vet a call.


Winter Blues - Keeping your pet safe and healthy

Winter is definitely coming! Are your pets a bit more reluctant to go outside? Having a bit more difficulty rising out of bed in the morning?

With the change in weather and temperatures dropping we have to ensure we are looking after our four legged family members. We need to pay particular attention to those pets who have entered their senior years and those who live outside.

 

Do I have to go outside?

If your pet spends the majority of their time outside then proper outdoor housing is a must. There are fantastic ranges of kennels for dogs and enclosures for cats that offer water, rain, frost and wind protection. Make sure the housing is placed away from the seasonal elements in a position where they feel secure and cozy.

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Whether inside or outside make sure your pets bedding is raised off the floor and away from cold drafts including the door ways of kennels. Fill an outside kennel with warm dry blankets that are washed regularly.

 

 

Feed me, Feed me!

You'll probably notice your pet's appetite will increase during winter. This is especially true in outside pets that will require more energy to keep warm. Keep a close eye on your pet's weight ensuring they are nourished, but not overfed from too many winter snacks.

 

Keep me warm

Particularly cold winters days can be uncomfortable for slim, younger or older dogs. Try placing a hot water bottle (with warm not hot water) into your pet's kennel. This will soon make a comfortable place to rest. A caution for pets who love to chew, only use warm water and if you have any doubts there are other options such as heating discs and pads. Ask us for more information.

 

pexels-photo (1)Get my lead!

There's nothing like a walk in the park and some aerobic exercise to get rid of the winter blues. Rug up and head out for your pet's favourite activity. Not only will your dog love you for it, you'll be feeling fantastic in no time too.

 

Older Pets

If your pet is struggling to get out of bed then it could be a sign of arthritis or an age related disease. The cold weather often makes these problems worse. We recommend 6 monthly senior check-ups particularly if your pet is showing signs of ageing. Typically, most of these symptoms can be controlled through simple diet changes and/or medications.

 

Tips for Senior Pets:
  • Create a warm haven where your older pet can curl up and avoid draughty areas.
  • Elevate their bed up off the cold floor. Particularly concrete and hard surfaces.
  • Provide thick warm bedding and use heating products where possible.
  • Maintain your pet's joint mobility by providing regular exercise

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If you believe your pet is in pain please seek veterinary advice. Advancements in veterinary medicine make treatment for the ailments of age related disease possible.

 

Click to find your nearest Best for Pet clinic 

 


Caring for your Senior Pet

For many pet lovers, watching our companions grow older is a comforting, rewarding experience. Hard to believe the same bundle of energy tearing around the yard so many years ago is now the calm and kind old friend curled at our feet.

Old age itself is not a disease but we are aware that certain diseases can be age related. Older pets need more extensive examinations, more often. This is why we recommend having senior check-ups for your older pets.

A properly formulated diet will have a significant impact on the health of a senior pet and our health care teams are trained to advise you on the best nutrition for your companion.

The approach to your senior pet is that of a pet care partnership combining your observations at home with an examination. Typically most of the diseases we are keeping an eye out for in senior pets are controllable with simple diet changes and/or medications.

 

What to look out for

As your pet's owner, you are in the best position to look out for the early warning signs of aging and age related diseases. Here are some of the signs that can indicate change and require action:

  • Change in appetite
  • Discomfort on rising or after exercise
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Loss of housetraining6737182_s
  • Excessive drinking and/or urination
  • Bad breath, plaque, or bleeding gums
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Persistent cough
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Appearance of lumps and bumps

 

What we can do for your pet

At the senior check-up vets are identifying subtle changes in body function. If there are abnormalities detected in initial testing, further investigation or more frequent testing may be recommended.

What should your Senior Check Include?

  • Wellness overview - a chance for you to tell your veterinarian any changes of behaviour or physical appearance you have noticed. Use our checklist as a reminder of the changes you should be looking out for.
  • Hands on physical examination - your veterinarian will palpate or feel your pet's musculoskeletal system, abdomen, and head and neck areas for abnormalities. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your pet's heart and lungs. Your pet's eyes, ears, and mouth will also be checked for age-related problems, such as cataracts, dental problems, and ear canal disorders.
  • Diagnostic tests - such as blood work, urinalysis and possibly x-rays (based on your veterinarian's recommendations).

 

Ongoing monitoring allows your veterinarian to ensure they have the correct combination of treatment in place for your pet. As well as assisting you to provide the best lifestyle and home environment possible.

The aim of the Senior Program is to make the life of your furry companion long and healthy. We take pleasure in helping you to achieve this.

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For additional questions or to book your Senior Pet in for a health check please contact your local Best for Pet veterinarian.

http://bestforpet.com.au/our-clinics/