Separation anxiety is a condition caused by a dog’s fear of being alone. And it’s a big problem for dog owners …
Behaviors caused by separation anxiety are problematic and exhausting. But they’re also manageable with the right approach.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can cause behavior problems in dogs when they’re left alone. Common symptoms of separation anxiety may include one or more of the following:
- Scratching and digging near doors and windows
- Trying to escape
- Destructive behavior such as chewing door frames or other items
- Barking, whining or howling
- Excessive salivation
- Chewing on or licking themselves
In extreme cases, your dog may even urinate or defecate because of the physiological effect of prolonged stress.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Dogs?
Dogs are pack animals by nature. In the wild, dogs are hardly, if ever, alone. That’s why they get nervous when they’re alone. And it’s why many dogs will suffer from separation anxiety when they’re separated from the people that they perceive as their pack!
But leaving your dog alone isn’t the only reason for separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is often the result of an underlying experience and is more likely to affect dogs who:
- Haven’t spent much time alone.
- Were abandoned at key points in their psychological development.
- Weren’t properly integrated into their first home. (Maybe their owners left them confined to a small space without enough social interaction.)
- Were removed from mother and littermates too early (prior to 8 weeks of age) or too late (after 14 weeks).
- Have experienced a traumatic event, such as a frightening experience at a shelter or kennel. A significant change in their household or routine can also cause trauma. This could be a new person joining the family, a move to another house or a change in the owner’s work schedule.
- Have a tendency to become extremely attached to their person, and then feel insecure when that person leaves. This might be a result of losing a home or person he was previously attached to.
How To Manage Separation Anxiety Naturally
There are lots of ways to help manage your dog’s separation anxiety naturally.
1. Play Some Music
Choose classical or easy listening music, since the idea is to help calm your dog. News radio can also work but not if the shows have excited hosts or loud debates. This will only cause your dog more anxiety.
You can also record normal household sounds and play the recording for comfort. Occasionally play the tape when you’re home so your dog doesn’t only associate the recording with your departure.
2. Use A Familiar Smell
Try leaving a worn item of clothing you wear for your dog when you leave. Like the sound of your voice, your smell can also bring comfort to your dog.
3. Change Your Dog’s Diet
There’s a strong link between diet and behavior so being aware of your dog’s diet can help. A lot of problems can occur when dogs eat poor-quality food … like kibble. So changing to a natural species-appropriate diet without any artificial ingredients can be very beneficial.
You also want to feed your dog twice per day to avoid any mood swings that can result from low blood sugar. Try feeding the biggest meal of the day before you go out as your dog will feel more content and sleepy after a satisfying meal.
4. Exercise Your Dog
Dogs have a lot of energy so it’s important for them to have a productive way to release it. So before leaving your dog alone, go for a walk, play with and exercise your dog.
This will help tire him out and it will make him feel happier and more relaxed.
5. Try Some Soothing Herbs
There are many different herbs that can help with your dog’s separation anxiety.
Passionflower is a calming herb that quiets the entire nervous system. That’s why it’s used as an alternative to sedatives, which are often prescribed for dog anxiety. Passionflower is also fast acting and non-addictive.
You can give your dog passionflower in tincture form and add it to his daily water. Use 0.5 to 1.5 ml per 25 lbs of body weight.
Scutellaria (Skullcap) and Valerian
These are great herbal medicines for the symptomatic relief of anxiety and nervousness. And they’re invaluable when it comes to dogs with separation anxiety.
You can use skullcap and valerian together or on their own in tincture form.
Skullcap: Give your dog 0.5 ml of skullcap per 20 lbs of body weight 3 times daily for up to a week.
Valerian: Add the following amount of tincture to your dog’s food or water based on his weight.
1 to 20 lbs … 1-4 drops, 2-3 times daily
20 to 50 lbs … 5-10 drops, 2-3 times daily
50 to 100 lbs … 10-20 drops, 2-3 times daily
Chamomila (German chamomile)
German chamomile is a potent sedative used to reduce anxiety in stressed animals. It can also calm your dog’s belly and helping him sleep.
Some pets enjoy chamomile tea as much as humans do. Depending on the size of your dog, put 2 tsps to 2 tbsps of tea into his drinking water. To help calm your dog’s separation anxiety, you can also give him .25 to .5 ml of chamomile tincture twice daily in his water.
Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort)
St John’s Wort is as effective as Prozak – a medication that helps improve mood and reduce anxiety. This is thanks to it’s ant-depressant properties.
You can use St John’s Wort alone or in combination with any of the other herbs mentioned so far. If giving it on its own, put 12 drops of tincture into your dog’s water or food up to twice daily.
Avena Sativa (Oatstraw)
Oatstraw helps create a sense of calm, similar to Valerian, passionflower and skullcap.
Oatstraw can also go directly into your dog’s water as a tincture. Give him 1-2 ml per 20 lbs of body weight daily.
Does CBD Oil Help Dogs With Separation Anxiety?
When looking for CBD oil for your dog, you want a product that’s organic full or broad spectrum and uses CO2 extraction. You also want to read through the product’s Certificate of Analysis to make sure you buy a high-quality product.
To give your dog CBD oil for separation anxiety follow the instructions on the product package. As a general rule, your dog should need 0.05 to 0.25 mg per pound of body weight. But start low and only increase the dose if it doesn’t have the desired effect.
These are the most common natural remedies used today for separation anxiety and they have years of success to back them up.
While there are many drugs on the market that claim to help your dog, most have side effects which can cause further problems to your dog’s health.
So try one of these natural remedies the next time you leave your dog alone and see what a difference they can make.