Understanding Separation Anxiety and 3 Tips to Reduce Your Dog's Distress

Bringing a dog into your home and family's lives is exciting, but it does require ongoing care and discipline. From training and feeding to ensuring your dog receives proper medical attention, it is easy to see the different physical, emotional, and financial elements to having a dog. Unfortunately, even with this proper care, your dog may develop conditions that affect its health and behavior. Considering 20 percent of the 80 million dogs in the nation have separation anxiety, understanding this condition is key to reducing your dog's risk. Using this guide, you will not only understand separation anxiety in dogs, but also learn 4 ways to reduce your dog's emotional distress while you are away.

1. Understand Separation Anxiety

Your dog feels comfortable and at ease when you are near it. However, if you need to leave the house, your dog may find itself stressed and anxious while you are away.

These emotions can cause your dog to act out, damaging your home and belongings with excessive chewing, scratching, and gouging. In addition, it may vomit or have numerous bathroom accidents inside the home.

It is important to not punish your dog for this behavior, since it is an actual condition that may require medical attention. Fortunately, you can reduce your dog's anxiety. Of course, make sure to consult your dog's veterinarian for a full medical evaluation before attempting to treat separation anxiety.  

2. Take Your Dog Out for Exercise

Taking your dog for a long walk or run before you leave the house offers enormous benefits. Not only will the walk give you and your dog some extra time to spend together, but it will also decrease the amount of energy your dog has, increasing its need for rest while you are away.

Consider having your dog wear a weighted backpack during the walk, as well. Wearing a specialized dog backpack will help your pet use more energy during the walk, but also make it feel it is completing a specific job, which reduces its stress and makes it feel more content and happy.

3. Stay Calm

If your dog senses that you are stressed, it will also be stressed. To protect your dog's emotions, you must remain calm and collected before leaving the home.

Do not make an ordeal out of saying goodbye to your dog. Avoid speaking to your dog and do not make eye contact with it before leaving. This will give your dog the feeling that leaving is not a big event, which will ease its fears and help it remain calm while you are away.

4. Regulate Your Dog's Diet

Making sure your dog follows a well-balanced diet is not only important for its health, but it can also reduce its separation anxiety.

Giving your dog a high-protein food is best, since higher-protein foods contain tyrosine. This amino acid is proven to reduce stress in humans and animals. In addition, increasing your dog's serotonin levels will reduce its aggression and help it be more calm. Read the ingredient label on your dog's food. Make sure the first few ingredients are proteins and not grains.

To increase your dog's ability to produce serotonin, add a dietary tryptophan supplement to their normal food. Liquid forms of this dietary supplement can be mixed directly into your pet's wet or dry food. Alternatively, your dog may be able to take a tablet-like supplement.

Ask the veterinarian for an oral dietary tryptophan supplement to ease your dog's anxiety. The dosage will depend on a few factors, including your dog's weight and anxiety level.

Easing your dog's separation anxiety is smart for protecting your home and your dog's happiness, but you may not know where to get started. Using this guide and the help of a veterinarian, such as one from 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, you will understand this disorder and learn how to reduce your dog's anxiety.