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Separation anxiety (Proceedings)

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Aug 01, 2011

Definition

Symptoms of anxiety, distress or panic exhibited when animals are left alone. Separation anxiety can be characterized by pacing, drooling, vocalization, destruction, and elimination which are not related to other behavioral disorders. All or some of these behaviors can be present.

Behavioral symptoms

     • Monotonal Vocalization/Barking - Typified by barking and whining which begins soon before or after departure and persists for a large percentage of the time the dog is alone. Often is reported to the owners by neighbors.
     • Inappropriate Elimination - Depositing of urine and/or stool in various locations around the home (as opposed to in a single, consistent location). Only occurs when the dog is alone or perceives that they are alone. Stool may be abnormal in appearance (is commonly mucoid).
     • Destructive Behavior - Characterized by damage to exit points from the home (doors and windows) or destruction of personal items (pillows, clothing, remote control units). Confinement in a cage often escalates the destruction and can result in injury to the animal (tooth or toenail fracture for example)
     • Hypersalivation - Is often considered to be highly suggestive of separation anxiety when the behavior is restricted to those times when the dog is alone or perceives to be alone.

Data collection

     • Physical Examination
     • CBC
     • Chemistry Profile
     • Thyroid Profile
     • Urinalysis
     • Fecal Exam

Behavioral history - who, what, when, where

     • Who is present at the time of the behavior (is the pet alone or are there people present), before the behavior begins (departure) and afterwards (arrival).
     • Who is the primary caretaker of the animal and how does the pet interact with this person (follows the person or is willing to be voluntarily separated from that person)
     • Describe the behavior. What does the pet do when alone? Videotaping the dog's activity when alone can help to verify whether the pet appears anxious (panting, pacing, etc)
     • When does the behavior occur? Is the pet alone or does it perceive to be alone (while owner is sleeping or in the shower, for example). Or does the pet have full access to the owner when the behavior occurs.
     • Where does the behavior occur? Are the behaviors directed toward exit points or are there multiple locations vs. single locations in the home.