Pets with Problems

Medication for Dog Separation Anxiety

As a dog separation anxiety training expert, I often get asked about the use of medication for treating separation anxiety in dogs. While medication can be a useful tool in helping resolve separation anxiety, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before making a decision.
Anti anxiety medication still has a stigma attached to it and many people are reticent to use it because they think that it will change their dog’s personality. Anti anxiety medication does NOT alter a personality. One of the most common comments I hear from owners is that the dog is always asleep. However, a healthy dog will sleep 14-16 hours a day. If your dog is sleeping more it often means that he is more chilled out and relaxed because the medication has reduced his anxiety – this is a win!!!! It is important to consider anti-anxiety medication like any other medication – if your dog has a physical health issue you would not think twice about using the medication that the vet has prescribed. Mental health issues are as important and as debilitating as physical ones and separation anxiety or any long term anxiety for that matter, is a serious health issue – there is nothing to be afraid of!!!!!

Pros of Using Medication for Dog Separation Anxiety

The use of anti-anxiety medication is commonly used when treating a dog with separation anxiety. In order for a dog to respond properly to the training we have to reduce his anxiety – an anxious dog is not able to learn. In my experience it is very rare that a dog will overcome his separation issues without the use of medication – he is just too anxious to be able to learn and respond to the programme. It is important to understand that medication is simply a tool – it does not cure separation anxiety, it just enables the dog to relax enough to be responsive. In most cases, once the dog has learned that being alone is not the end of the world and is happy snoozing on the sofa alone in the house, the medication can be withdrawn.

Medication for Dog Separation Anxiety

Cons of Using Medication for Dog Separation Anxiety

While medication is a useful tool when teaching a dog to be happy to be alone, there may be some potential, although rare, downsides to consider. One of the main concerns with medication of any kind is the risk of side effects. Some dogs may experience mild side effects, while others may experience more serious side effects that can impact their health and wellbeing. Often the mild side effects will disappear once the dog’s system gets used to the meds. However, more serious or long term side effects must be referred to the vet for advice and if necessary s withdrawal of the medication.

Another potential downside of medication is the cost. Depending on the medication and your location, the cost of medication can vary widely. However, if you have pet insurance your insurance company may cover these costs – check your policy!

It’s also important to note that medication is not a cure for separation anxiety. While medication can help reduce your dog’s anxiety and make it easier for them to respond to training, it’s important to continue working on training and behavioural modification techniques to address the root cause of the separation anxiety.

Holistic and Natural Choices

While some dog owners may prefer to use holistic or natural remedies for separation anxiety, it’s important to understand that these choices are typically ineffective as compared to prescribed medications. Separation anxiety is a serious mental health disorder and over the counter remedies often have no effect and most of them have no scientific basis of their efficacy.

It’s important to also note that some natural remedies can be toxic to dogs even though they are fine for humans and they should never be combined with prescription meds unless authorised by your vet. Always consult with a veterinarian before using any natural remedies to ensure they are safe and effective for your dog’s specific needs.

In addition to medication, there are other ways to help separation anxiety in dogs.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation can be helpful in reducing anxiety and promoting overall wellbeing in your dog. Providing your dog with plenty positive experiences and keeping him physically and mentally fit and healthy can help build confidence and reduce anxiety.

Combining Medication with Behavioural Modification

While medication can be helpful in working on resolving separation anxiety in dogs, it is only effective when combined with behavioural modification techniques. Without these techniques the disorder will come back as soon as the medication has stopped – remember medication is NOT a cure – it is simply a tool.

Behavioural modification involves teaching your dog new habits and behaviours to help them feel more comfortable and confident when you’re not around.

When combined with medication, behavioural modification can be an effective way to progress in a behaviour modification programme and help your dog feel more comfortable and relaxed when you’re not around.

Working with a qualified professional is important to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your dog’s specific needs and supports their overall wellbeing.

Working with a Veterinarian

If, during a programme I feel that medication will help, I will contact your vet to explain why I feel the need for meds and then work closely with your vet to help you make an informed decision.

Your veterinarian can help you evaluate the risks and benefits of medication, and can work with you to develop a medicinal treatment plan that addresses your dog’s specific needs.

Your veterinarian can also help you monitor your dog for any potential side effects or complications, and can make adjustments to the medication as needed.

When working with a veterinarian, it’s important to be honest and open about your dog’s symptoms and behaviours and any other medical conditions or medications they may be taking.

Medication for Dog Separation Anxiety - A Useful Tool

When it comes to working with separation anxiety in dogs, medication can be a useful tool in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
It is important to work with a qualified professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your dog’s needs and supports their overall well-being. With the right treatment plan and support, it’s possible to help your dog feel more comfortable and confident when you’re not around.

Contact Me For Help

If you are struggling, I cannot urge you enough to contact me for help. The expertise I can offer is priceless when helping your dog overcome his anxiety and knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel – your dog CAN be happy at home alone.

As a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer, one of my greatest joys is to see the small marks of improvement in a dog that will eventually lead to them being able to stay home alone calmly. Another joy for me is working with these amazing owners – being able to work side by side with them to help their dog – it’s a privilege to be part of their lives as we work together to help their dog and help them understand they are not alone.

Please, contact me with any questions you have.  

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