Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Pet May Be Missing You

(NAPSI)-Veterinarians want dog owners to know that changes in routines and extended owner absences can sometimes bring on unwanted behavior. If your dog has soiled your new carpet, attacked the door molding or shredded your favorite pair of shoes, he could be suffering from canine separation anxiety. Fortunately, he can be helped.

Canine separation anxiety is an underdiagnosed and undertreated condition in which animals become so upset by their owner's departure that they resort to what is considered bad behavior to cope with the situation. It is estimated that separation anxiety may affect up to 10.7 million dogs, or 17 percent (Lilly Market Research) of all dogs in the U.S.

"Separation anxiety is triggered by the owner's absence," according to Barbara Sherman, DVM, a noted veterinary behaviorist at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. "It usually occurs when the owner leaves or immediately after. Because dogs are historically pack animals, the dog views the family as its pack and experiences distress when separated from that family." That stress leads to problem behaviors, including:

• Excessive barking, whining, howling;

• Destruction, chewing, clawing or digging;

• Urinary or bowel accidents indoors;

• Depression/inactivity;

• Constant pacing, circling;

• Excessive licking, drooling.

Separation anxiety is a treatable condition. Most veterinarians choose to use a combination of medication and behavior modification training. Medications have been introduced recently to help ease the pain of separation anxiety for dogs and their owners.

If your busy schedule leaves your dog home alone and triggers bad behavior, talk to your veterinarian about canine separation anxiety, diagnosis and treatment.

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