People have been joking that dogs are the real winners of social quarantining.
All of a sudden, their owners are home all day long! It must be fabulous for our pups to have us at home with them during the day, instead of out at work or busy with kids and other activities.
As the world slowly begins to imagine life beyond the COVID-19 health crisis, it will be interesting to see what changes occur in our daily lives. One thing is for sure, though, and that’s that we’ll be once again leaving our homes.
For our four-legged family members, this could be really confusing. Parents were home all day, every day, and now suddenly they are not? While many dogs will take this change in routine in stride, some dogs may develop situational separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is relatively common in the dog world, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, separation anxiety can be very difficult to treat. After all, simply telling our dogs that we’ll “be right back” won’t help.
Canine separation anxiety is a state of extreme anxiety in the dog that is caused by separation from their primary caretaker.
More specifically, a fear and anxiety that sets in when the dog is left alone. Common symptoms of canine social anxiety include the destruction of household items (particularly chewing), urinating or defecating indoors, as well as excessive barking. Dogs with a severe case of social anxiety may even hurt themselves in an attempt to escape the home and join their owner. For example, if a dog is crated they may go to extraordinary measures to escape their crate, potentially hurting themselves. If you’ve ever seen a dog in the throes of separation anxiety, they seem almost frantic, barking and pacing and whining for their owner to return.
Animal behaviorists haven’t quite figured out why some dogs are fine hanging out alone during the day while other dogs have a very difficult time.
The syndrome affects big dogs and small dogs, purebred dogs and mixed breeds, old dogs and young dogs, and seemingly has very little to do with how the dog is brought up. A history of trauma can predispose a dog to separation anxiety, as can living in a home with only one person, but plenty of dogs who don’t fit either of those criteria can develop separation anxiety.
Sometimes, separation anxiety can be triggered by environmental changes. And as the world slowly goes back into the office, plenty of dogs who are now used to having their family home with them all day will develop some behavioral issues, if not full blown separation anxiety, once they find themselves alone in the house.
One of the things that makes separation anxiety so hard to treat is that, by its very nature, the owner is not home when the dog is “acting out” the result of their overwhelming stress and anxiety.
Often time, it takes a combination of different treatments to help ease the dog’s terrible anxiety and calm them enough so that they can hang out by themselves without destroying the home and, potentially, hurting themselves.
Many veterinarians will jump straight to medication. SSRIs and antidepressants, often the same types of medication that humans use to combat mood disorders, are prescribed in dog-friendly doses to help the dog remain calm when left alone.
While often effective, antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications have side effects of their own, and some owners worry that the cure for separation anxiety could be creating further behavioral and health issues for their dog.
Since Chi and I are attached at the hip, and other times Chi goes to doggy daycare or is with relatives, he rarely has been alone for long periods of time.
So, I started doing some research on holistic ways to combat separation anxiety.
The goal is to calm the dog sufficiently so that they can tolerate being separated from their humans without having what essentially amounts to a panic attack, and it made me wonder if some holistic calming remedies could prove useful.
And I was right! Bach flowers have long been known to ease anxiety, stress, and emotional pain in humans and I had a hunch that it could also be safe for dogs.
Bach flowers aren’t flowers, but a tincture of various floral extracts that, when combined, have powerful medicinal and calming properties. Bach flower remedies were developed by Edward Bach, an English homeopath, in the 1930’s to combat stress, anxiety, and emotional distress.
Bach floral remedies are still used for humans, and after a little digging, I found Bach Rescue Remedy for pets.
Bach Rescue Remedy is made of pet-safe floral extracts and promote a sense of calm and reduce stress without making the animal feel drowsy and without the use of sedatives.
The human/dog connection is so strong that no dog is happy when their owner leaves home, but dogs with separation anxiety simply can’t cope with it and require a little extra help. Before you run to your Vet for prescription medications, try something natural like Bach Rescue Remedy. Both Chi takes the Rescue Remedy for Pets and I take the Rescue Remedy for humans!
You can feel good that you’re giving your dog an all-natural remedy, and with any luck, it will make your pup feel pretty good, too.
Purchase your own bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy as well as other products to help dogs stay calm and relaxed through my amazon shop!