Dogs up and down the country are facing anxiety and loneliness when they are separated by their humans, with a mental health condition called separation anxiety. It’s a topic we feel very strongly about, and one that goes un-noticed due to silent symptoms time and time again.
We’ve been talking to Burns Pet Nutrition on how to tackle separation anxiety, with Burns Founder and vet John Burns MBE and dog trainer Orlagh McCarthy.
Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
There are many symptoms of separation anxiety. Some of which will be easy to spot, others will be more difficult, and you may have to install a camera to see how your dog reacts when you’re not there. Symptoms include:
- Toileting in the house
- Barking or howling when left alone
- Pacing or being unsettled when left alone
- Destruction of items, including beds, walls, doors, etc.
- Self-mutilation to the point of injury when left alone
- Excessive drooling
Mental Health & Diet
John Burns has been advising dog owners to manage health problems since 1993. While supporting dog owners with physical health problems through diet and nutrition, John noticed improvements in both behaviour and mental health.
“Hyperactive dogs became calm, timid dogs became more confident, and unruly dogs were suddenly easier to control and train. The very basis of a holistic, natural approach is that body and mind are one, and influence one another. Burns foods are based on complex carbohydrates, usually from whole grains such as brown rice, oats and maize – the traditional food of humans (and therefore domesticated dogs) for many centuries.”
The significance of a dogs diet is often overlooked when maintaining good mental health. However, the nutritional characteristics in Burns pet foods promote stable mental and physical health. A wholesome diet has been scientifically proven to increase the amount of brain transmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
“A good diet is the bedrock of sound physical and mental health”.John Burns MBE
Whether your dog is a pup, an adult or senior, they must learn how to become comfortable with being alone.
John Burns shares his advice “Many pet owners encourage unwanted behaviour by inadvertently rewarding their pets with attention. The easiest way to train a dog to be on their own is by approaching the situation in a calm, under control manner.”
Orlagh McCarthy, a dog behaviourist and trainer from Burns Pet Nutrition, shares her top training tips:
- Reduce the time your dog is left alone
- Don’t make a fuss when you leave or come home
- Desensitise your departure
- Leave enriching activities and a high value treat when leaving the house
- Gradually introduce them to being left alone
Separation anxiety can be managed and maintained with help from a vet or a behavioural specialist.