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Separation Anxiety In Dogs

August 3, 2023

Our canine companions are known for being extremely loving and loyal. Fido has definitely earned the moniker of Man’s Best Friend! However, that devotion can also cause him distress … which often manifests as separation anxiety. A local Lexington, VA vet gives some information on this common doggy issue below.


Separation anxiety is, as the name suggests, the stress and unease Fido sometimes feels when separated from his humans. The condition is more widespread than many people realize. While there’s no way to get an exact number, it’s estimated that about one in six—perhapes as many as one in four—pups are affected. It’s particularly common in shelter dogs, as many of them have been separated from—or abandoned by—their owners before. 


Fido can’t tell you how he feels, but he often does signal his emotions and anxiety through his behavior. The biggest clue is if you come home to find your furry buddy has made a mess in your absence. Dogs sometimes release frustration through inappropriate behavior, such as digging, chewing, or perhaps destroying a couch. Some dogs will engage in pica, which is eating things that aren’t food. Your pooch may also soil inappropriately. Some pups even try to escape. 

What To Do

If you know or suspect that your canine friend has separation anxiety, you’ll need to take steps to help him cope with his alone time better. Be sure to walk and play with your pet before leaving for work. The point is to help him work off excess energy, and burn him out a little. Hopefully, he’ll be ready for a nap by the time you leave, and will sleep through a chunk of the day. You may also want to consider hiring a dog walker. Be sure to offer Fido lots of toys to occupy himself with when you’re gone. (Note: puzzle toys are great for this.)

What Not To Do

While you may not be thrilled to come home and find that Fido made a mess, don’t punish him for his misbehaviors. That may only make matters worse! Focus on rewarding good behavior instead. If your canine pal has severe anxiety, reach out to your vet or a professional behaviorist.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care. As your Lexington, VA animal clinic, we are here to help!  

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