Separation Anxiety: Know What It Is and How to Get Around It

Separation anxiety is a disorder that generates anguish, feeling of fear and discomfort in the animal (Photo: Pixabay/ Chandacastillo/ CreativeCommons)

A study carried out by the University of Helsinki, Finland, found that 17% of dogs are affected by Separation Anxiety Syndrome in Animals (SASA). To reach that conclusion, the researchers analyzed 3,824 cases in 192 different races.

Another study, this time from the Universidade Federal Fluminense (RJ), concluded that 55% of apartment dogs suffer from the syndrome, with 53% barking excessively, 46% having destructive behaviors and 34% having depression.

The situation is alarming and has become recurrent after the resumption of routine after the most severe moments of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With the pandemic, many people adopted pets and spent practically 24 hours a day with the pet. Now, people are returning to their routines and separation anxiety has affected many dogs, being the problem that we behaviorists have dealt with the most in recent times “, reports the trainer. Duarte Leopoldo.

But what is separation anxiety, anyway?

According to the canine trainer and behaviorist Rapha Aleixoseparation anxiety is a disorder that generates anguish, feeling of fear and discomfort in the animal.

“Many people confuse separation anxiety with hyper attachment, but it must be made clear that the former requires a veterinarian diagnosis and often involves medication, while the latter can only be resolved with behavioral measures,” he explains.

Among the signs in pets that something may be wrong are tiredness, apathy, lack of appetite, licking and excessive barking, among others.

“If the animal destroys objects in the house, scratches the walls, barks non-stop or pees or poops where it shouldn’t while the owner is away from home, it may be that he suffers from separation anxiety, which happens when the dog doesn’t know how to deal with it. with the absence of humans and the lack of activities and interaction throughout the day. Traumatic situations, changes in the environment and uncertainties in their routine can also affect the pet’s mental health”, emphasizes the veterinarian. Petronilho Jadecoordinator of veterinary content for a company focused on the pet ecosystem.

Physical activity is essential to treat and prevent separation anxiety (Photo: Pixabay / Tom und Nicki Löschner / CreativeCommons)

Physical activity is essential to treat and prevent separation anxiety (Photo: Pixabay/ Tom und Nicki Löschner/ CreativeCommons)

treatment and prevention

Treatment of separation anxiety may involve medication or changes in the way you interact with your pet.

“Physical activity is essential to achieve progress in treatment, which also involves environmental enrichment, management and work on self-control”, comments Rapha.

Duarte also recalls that it is important to change some attitudes of the owner himself, such as avoiding interacting with the dog when leaving or returning home, for example, as this would reinforce negative behavior.

A complement in the treatment is the use of aromatherapy, whose indication is made when one wants to change some behavioral picture of the animal. For this, essential oils are associated with toys made especially for pets.

“Animals that have gone through some situation of separation, whether from their tutors, mothers or siblings, very early, tend to have a predilection for plush toys to feel cozy and safe”, comments the zootechnician. Regina Herculanofounder of a brand specializing in toys for animals.

With regard to prevention, experts point out that it is important to practice physical activity with the pet, promote environmental enrichment and gradually get the animal used to the absence.

“It is important to reward the dog’s moments of solitude. It’s nice to spend some of his energy before leaving the house, leaving him with interactive toys and, when you’re at home, being aware that the animal will incessantly look for your company, but you can’t attend to him every time. sometimes he needs to have moments alone, even when the tutors are at home”, says Duarte.


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