What exactly is separation anxiety in animals, and is it common?
If you have a pet, you have a bond like no other—just check out all the benefits of having a pet. But you have to think of their needs too, and anytime pets are separated from the person they’re most bonded to, they’re likely to experience anxiety, explains Jennifer Garrepy, an animal behavior consultant and energy healer.
Separation anxiety is not to be taken lightly, explains Garrepy: “It is a very serious disorder characterized by extreme emotional and behavioral reactions. It can be compared to panic disorder in humans.” And doesn’t only happen to dogs. Though less frequent, other species like cats, parrots, and mice, can suffer from the disorder.
“At its most extreme, it can result in death,” warns Garrepy. “For example, dogs will run through glass windows, jump off ledges, or run away looking for you and get hit by a car.” Which is why taking precautions can make all the difference.
Common signs of separation anxiety
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If you’ve been wondering why your pup has been suddenly chewing the furniture, a habit that seemed to come out of nowhere, you should consider separation anxiety as the culprit—or one of these 9 other potential causes of anxiety in pets. According to Garrepy, the most common signs include:
Destructive behavior—clawing at the door, chewing through window screens, chewing up the couch, gnawing on the crate
Constant barking, meowing, howling
Pooping or peeing in the house (dogs) or outside the litter box (cats)
Panting and salivating
Refusing to eat or drink when left alone