Separation Anxiety in Canines and Potential Mitigation Options

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Danielle Rose Schlehahn


Separation anxiety is a very common disorder that many domestic dogs suffer from. It comes second only to aggression in terms of behavioural disorders reported and is the most common anxiety disorder in dogs. Canine separation anxiety has a vast range of symptoms, including excessive vocalisation, destruction, inappropriate elimination, hypersalivation, and restlessness. Since these symptoms only occur in the absence of the owner and vary between dogs, separation anxiety is exceedingly difficult to diagnose. This disorder is potentially affected by numerous factors, including gender, breed, existing behavioural issues, the degree of attachment to the owner, and environmental factors, such as the source of the dog. Fortunately, options for anxiety mitigation exist, including proper training of the dog, as well as medications such as fluoxetine and clomipramine. It is imperative that a proper diagnosis and treatment is given to the dog early in the condition, as this disorder can negatively affect both the mental and physical health of the dog, as well as the owner-dog relationship. Unfortunately, the daily struggles of managing dogs with such a disorder take a toll on the owners. This potentially results in the all too common decision to surrender the dog to a shelter, and potentially euthanasia. Ultimately, this disorder still requires future research in many aspects, in order to better the lives of both the dog and its owners.