Dog Tips

About Separation Anxiety in Dogs

No one likes it when their loved ones leave them. For dogs, sometimes it can be even if it is for just a few hours. You would have seen your dog starting to behave differently when you started wearing your shoes and getting ready to leave for the office. While this may feel like a temporary feeling that your dog is going through, it can turn into a severe illness when the cause of separation anxiety starts getting more serious. Separation anxiety in dogs can be difficult to manage, but Spot Pet Insurance is here to help you understand more about it. Continue reading below to learn more about how to deal with dog separation anxiety.

Common Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

  • Change in routine – If till now you’ve been working from home and were only leaving your dog without you for a couple of hours when you go to the gym or anywhere else and now you’ve started going to the office for 8-10 hrs while your dog is waiting at home for you for that long, it may start developing separation anxiety. Moving to a new home or even renovating your house can cause it at times.

  • Lack of socialization – lack of training or socialization at a young age for dogs can make them more prone to separation anxiety at a later stage. Dogs that have not been made to live alone gradually at a young age find it more challenging later.  

  • Change of parents -  Dogs do tend to show signs of grief when they lose someone they are bonded with. Crying out, searching for the missing loved one, refusing to eat, moping, or visiting the person's gravesite are seen as common reactions. These are signs of separation anxiety. Dogs that are adopted from a shelter or rehomed are more likely to develop it.

  • Trauma – If your house gets robbed or something terrible happens in front of your dog when you’re not around, it can cause separation anxiety. Even if your dog has experienced negative things like loud noises, suffocation in a small space, etc. without you present there, it may cause the same.

  • Overdependence on parent – Dogs that are more reliant on their parents for comfort and security may face more difficulty coping with being alone

What happens when dogs feel separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety in dogs can manifest in various ways, some being severe. They include:

  • Stress – Anxiety can release excessive stress hormones in a dog’s body that can lead to physiological problems like increased heart rate, panting, and trembling.

  • Digestive issues – Gastronomical upset is a common symptom in dogs with anxiety and can result in vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.

  • Behavior change – Separation takes a huge toll on a dog’s emotional balance and can result in a behavior change and even difficulty bonding with the parent

  • Immunity impact – Chronic stress occurring from separation can lead to a weak immune system for dogs making them more prone to illnesses.

  • Sleep disturbance – The distress can disrupt their normal sleep patterns causing fatigue and other problems arising due to lack of sleep

  • Risk of accidents – Some dogs may try to escape the home and put themselves in danger as a reaction to separation.

  • Skin problems – Dogs tend to do excessive licking, scratching, or chewing when experiencing anxiety. These can lead to skin irritation, hot spots, or even hair loss in dogs. If you suspect your dog of having a skin condition, our dog skin conditions guide could help you understand more about them.

How to know if a dog has separation anxiety?

When there are multiple severe consequences of a dog facing separation anxiety, it is important, as a loving and responsible parent, to identify the symptoms at the earliest and treat them. You will know if your dog is going through it if you notice the following – 

  • Excessive chewing, digging, or scratching at doors and windows

  • Unusual barking, howling, or whining

  • Refusing to eat when left without you

  • Urinating/defecating inside the house

  • Excessive drooling or panting

  • Increased heart rate

  • Pacing in random directions

  • Hiding in a safe place once you leave

  • Too much attachment like following you everywhere once you are back

  • Trembling or shaking the moment you start heading towards the door

Now some of these you won’t be able to notice since they happen after you’re gone. Either your family members would have to look out for these or your house help/dog walker. It is not uncommon for your dog to show these signs when you’re away.

  • 48% of dog parents say that their pets follow them to the door and look sad.

  • 33% said that their pets whine.

  • 22% said that their pets seem anxious and pace around

(Source – dvm360)

What to do if my dog has separation anxiety?

  • Start with confining your dog in a safe and comfortable space while you’re gone. A crate or a dog-proof room may work.

  • Get some engaging toys and puzzles to stimulate the dog’s mind while you’re away

  • White noise or some calm music in the background may also help

  • Make sure that no underlying medical conditions are adding to the anxiety.

  • Your dog picks up on your departure cues like picking up the car keys or getting the shoes out. Associate these experiences with something positive. 

  • Start slow. Do not leave your dog alone for a long time on one random day. Acclimate your dog slowly by starting with small periods of you being away.

Also, remember that the behaviors that your dog is showing as a sign of anxiety are not a result of disobedience. So do not scold or punish or you will end up making it worse. 

What Can I Give My Dog for Separation Anxiety?

If the symptoms of separation anxiety are prolonged even after you try to implement the above measures then you may want to consult a vet. There are certified separation anxiety trainers available for dogs that can curate a customized treatment plan for your dog. 

Tips for Dealing with Dog Separation Anxiety

We know that your dog is not the only one facing separation anxiety while you’re away. It is difficult for a parent to stay away from their babies too. A survey conducted by OnePoll shows the top concerns of pet parents when they are away from their four-legged babies – 

  • Loneliness or boredom (52%)

  • Separation anxiety (44%)

  • Access to food and water (36%)

  • Health issues or emergencies (33%)

  • Pet escaping or getting lost (31%)

  • Destructive behavior (25%)

  • Other people's handling of the pet (14%)

So if you’re feeling anxiety or any of the above worries then you’re just a caring and responsible pet parent. Some of them in the survey even said that they would take a pay cut to work from home for their pets.

Some tips that we would like to give you to cope with these worries and anxieties are – 

  • First of all, know that your dog’s feeling anxious is not a reflection of your upbringing or love. It happens due to a combination of factors.

  • Do not try to create scenarios in your head about what your dog must be thinking or doing while you’re away. They may not always be sad or anxious. They could be calm and relaxed.

  • Try to build independence for both, your dog and yourself

  • Try not to make a big deal out of your departures and arrivals 

How does Pet Insurance help with Dog Separation Anxiety?

You read above the consequences of your dog going through separation anxiety. They can be both physiological and psychological and can even hamper your relationship with your dog. Treatment costs for behavioral changes that arise from anxiety, visits to specialists, etc. can run up to thousands of dollars and cause a severe headache over and above the worries that you’re already feeling.


Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: