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Shiny Happy Pets Issue

treatment Once diagnosed, it can take an abundance of both time and patience to see your pet through to the other side of this debilitating syndrome. Unless your veterinarian has a special interest in veterinary behavior problems, you may want to consult with a board certified animal behaviorist for a treatment plan. Most pets who suffer from separation anxiety will benefit from some combination of behavior modification (both yours and theirs!), oral medication and the use of pheromones. Behavior modification in dogs should include independence training and confidence building while you are home. Attention-seeking behaviors should be ignored as you and your dog restructure your relationship. Establishing a regular exercise routine and teaching your dog to settle on command will also be helpful. Another important part of treatment will be desensitizing your pet to your departure cues (like putting on your coat or grabbing your keys), so your actions won’t automatically trigger panic in your pet. Creating and using new departure cues to teach your pet that nothing bad will happen while you are gone, and that you promise to always return, is essential. Oral medications such as anxiolytics or anti-depressants will likely prove helpful in the initial stages of behavior modification, when your pet is especially panicked at the thought of your departure. Traditional medications, combined with certain pheromones (read more on that in “Keep Calm and Carry On,” page 48), can really help ease your pet’s chemical response to stress. It will also be helpful to consider alternate arrangements for your dog or cat during your absence in the early stages of behavior modification. Doggy daycare, pet sitters and boarding are all good options for anxious pets. prognosis The long-term prognosis for pets suffering from separation anxiety is positive, although the road to recovery in severe cases is usually long and bumpy. Apart from the huge time commitment that behavior modification entails, treatment plans often require tailoring to individual needs — in other words, there may be a lot of trial and error before you find what works for your pet. Variations in medications and multiple appointments with veterinarians or behaviorists are often needed before significant behavior changes occur. Because separation anxiety is ultimately tied to a family member’s absence, it can be difficult to feel like the behavior isn’t performed out of spite; when your cat immediately urinates in your shoe when you walk through the door, it’s hard to not take it personally! But it is important to remember that your pet’s behavior is driven by anxiety, not malice. Panicked pets are truly suffering. If you’re struggling with a pet’s separation anxiety, you are not alone. The condition is very common and although it can be frustrating, a simple commitment to work closely with your vet to help your pet find the relief he or she so desperately needs will — in time — turn a harried home back into a happy one. the shiny happy pets issue 27


Shiny Happy Pets Issue
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