The Secret Life of Separation Anxiety

The Secret Life of Pets was released today!  Though this movie generated much laughter throughout the theater, it raises a bigger question: What do our pets do when we’re not home?
While many owners set up cameras to catch their pets in bad behaviors, pets across the country deal with separation anxiety from their owners.  Separation anxiety is highly stressful for your pet and can cause them to exhibit undesirable behaviors (like eating the entire couch or ripping down the curtains).  Dealing with separation anxiety is necessary to keep your pet happy and healthy.
First off, here are several articles by animal behaviorist, Dr. Sophia Yin.  Her techniques are highly regarded in the veterinary community and she uses her blog to help veterinary workers and pet owners alike.  Some of her articles about separation anxiety include:
These articles will help with the behavior modification of your pet-meaning it will help change anxious and destructive behavior into happier, calmer behavior.  That being said, finding products to help relieve their stress during their behavior modification can ease things for both you and your pet.  Here are a list of available products our veterinarians recommend.
1) Thundershirt: Made for both cats and dogs, we’re sure you’ve seen these during commercial breaks or in your local pet store.  The concept behind these vests is that they provide slight, comforting pressure to your pet to ease their anxiety.  A similar concept seen in us humans is when we are calmed when hugging someone. Depending on your individual pet, this medication-free product may be all your pet needs to “take the edge off” during stressful situations.
2) Adaptil for Dogs:  We wrote about this pheromone product in this article and how it can be used to relieve tension in multi-pet homes.  The reason this product is able to serve that function is because it calms each individual pet down.  This means that using Adaptil with your “only child” dog will still provide a great calming effect-even when you’re not home.
3) Feliway for Cats: In another article, we discussed how this product can help with inter-cat aggression, but it can also be used to resolve scratching, spraying, excessive hiding, and even aggression issues in your anxious cat.  Like Adaptil, Feliway uses pheromone technology to allow cats to feel safe during unfamiliar or tense experiences.  If your kitty is stressed when you’re not home, this product may help him remain calm until you return.
4) Composure by Vetri-Science:  This product also has formulas for both cats and dogs.  It can come either as a bite-sized chew or in liquid form.  Composure has several calming ingredients, including L-Theanine (which is found in various tea leaves) and B vitamins.  Composure acts as a supplement rather than a sedative and can be used daily in pets with separation anxiety.
5) Prescription medications:  Your veterinarian may prescribe mild sedatives during times of extreme stress or in addition to a behavior modification program.  These medications should only be used as a last resort while other steps are being taken manage your pet’s anxiety symptoms.  Many of these medications require bi-annual examinations and regular blood and/or urine testing for the safety of your pet.  The other four products in this list will assist in calming your pet without affecting energy level or causing drowsiness.
As always, consult with your veterinarian about these products and which one is best for your individual pet.  Here at Sandstone Animal Hospital, we carry all of these products and will be happy to discuss which product(s) is best for your individual pet, answer questions about behavior modification, or refer you to Dr. Elizabeth Feltes of The Behavior Clinic for additional help!  Call to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians to discuss the options and keep your pet’s secret life under control!
Have you used any of these products or techniques with your pet?  Which one worked best for you?  Let us know in the comments below!