Treating Dog Separation Anxiety

Medication, herbal remedies and pheromone products help manage canine separation anxiety.


You and your dog have a serious bond. You are his whole world, and you can’t imagine life without him. But … whenever you have to leave the house, your dog has a problem. He whines. He cries. He paces nervously. After you leave, he might destroy the moldings around the door frame, bark and howl until the neighbors call the police, forget he was ever housetrained, even chew at his own paws until he bleeds.

All you have to do is pick up your keys or turn off the computer or do any of those ordinary things you do before you have to leave the house, and he goes ballistic.

You’re thinking, “This isn’t normal, is it? Should I do something about it?”

Separation Anxiety: It’s Serious
Actually, you can and should do something about separation anxiety, and you should do it now, says Daniel Aja, DVM, a veterinarian with Cherry Bend Animal Hospital in Michigan, and past president of the American Animal Hospital Association. “Separation anxiety is a behavioral disorder that occurs when dogs show anxiety related to the departure of a loved one. These dogs are hyper-attached to their owners, and that can cause problems.”

According to Aja, household destruction is the No. 1 reason pet owners finally take their anxious pets to the veterinarian. “I’ve had dogs in my office that have torn apart their crates, even breaking their teeth off to do it. We had a Saint Bernard who would crash through the picture window to get out of the house,” Aja says. Unfortunately, pet owners often visit the vet as a last resort instead of a first line of defense — a mistake, because treating separation anxiety early can often solve the problem before it becomes too severe.

Prozac for Pets
Medical therapy for separation anxiety has changed from a protocol of sedatives to treatment with anti-depressants. “Sedatives put dogs in a stupor to suppress the behavior, but they didn’t solve the problem,” Aja explains. Instead, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the same kinds of medications doctors frequently prescribe for human patients with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other anxiety problems, seem to work better.

The two most common veterinary choices today are clomipromine hydrochloride and fluoxetine hydrochloride (the same medicine as Prozac). Available only by prescription through a veterinarian, these medicines include correct dosing information for pets. (Don’t give your dog any of your own Prozac or other anti-depressant medication).

For severe cases, and to help calm pets during the two-week-or-so lag time before the SSRI medications kick in, vets also sometimes prescribe alprazolam (Xanax). “This anti-anxiety medication works very quickly in pets during the SSRI wind-up period,” Aja says. Because it works immediately, it’s also good for fireworks and thunderstorm anxiety. You don’t have to wean the dog on and off the medication.”

Natural Medicine
Some cases of separation anxiety, especially in puppies, don’t require medication and will respond to behavioral training alone, Aja says. For pet owners uncomfortable with the pharmaceutical approach, herbal remedies and/or flower essence formulas designed to ease anxiety might provide some relief for pets, and many work well in conjunction with veterinary treatment.

“Flower essences do not interfere with either behavior training or traditional veterinary care,” says Jann Garrity, class administrator for the Flower Essence Society in California. “Flower essences address the internal emotional condition of the animal to restore balance and appropriate behavior.”

Aja and many other vets also recommend Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.), a synthetic pheromone product that releases calming pheromones into the air through a diffuser that you plug in to an electrical outlet. Humans can’t detect the chemical message, but pets can. “I advise keeping the D.A.P. running all the time. “These products do seem to help quite a bit, as an adjunct to the veterinary treatment,” Aja says.

But for pets with any symptoms, see a vet right away, Aja says. “Some pets might respond to natural remedies, but severe separation anxiety is an in-depth problem that needs to be addressed by a professional.”

Aja also stresses that without targeted behavior training and management, no treatment — pharmaceutical or natural — is likely to succeed. “Everybody wants a quick and easy fix. They might come in looking for a miracle drug, and while drugs are sometimes necessary, drugs alone aren’t enough. You need to work with the dog. You need to look at the big picture, or any treatment is prone to failure.”

Tips for Managing Separation Anxiety
While treating a dog for separation anxiety, incorporate these additional strategies:

  • Don’t acknowledge or coddle anxious behavior. Instead, reward calm behavior.
  • Take your dog to work with you, if you can, or consider doggie daycare or a pet sitter. “Dogs are pack animals, and it isn’t natural for them to be alone all day,” Aja says. “A lot of dogs thrive in a daycare situation because they receive socialization and stimuli all day long.”
  • Keep the TV on. “Visual stimulation seems to work better than sound alone to comfort pets,” Aja says.
  • Consider another pet to keep your dog company, if feasible. When two pets bond, separation anxiety is sometimes alleviated.
  • Provide interactive toys, like frozen Kongs filled with peanut butter and kibble. “Toys that keep the dog busy can distract him so he doesn’t feel so anxious,” Aja says.
  • Don’t make a big deal when coming or going, and vary your routine so your dog doesn’t pick up on the same cues every time.

Eve Adamson is a contributing editor to DOG FANCY magazine.

For more on managing separation anxiety, check out the September 2007 issue of DOG FANCY.


4 of 41 Comments View All 41 Comments

Give us your opinion Give us your opinion on Treating Dog Separation Anxiety

User Avatar

Gloria Wendy   Australia, Alabama

9/30/2015 2:34:19 AM

I am so happy today because me and my boyfriend has be free from the HIV/AIDS disease, me and my boyfriend have been having HIV/AIDS since the past 5 years now,and will have pass through many and different processes in getting cured from the HIV diseases but nothing was working out, a friend of mine on Facebook introduce me to Dr.Ofemo, that he is the only one who can helped me get cured from Hiv and any other diseases,so will contacted him and have faith on him,he told me and my boyfriend that will don’t have to be sad any more or share our tears any more on this Hiv disease when the cure have already be found.he asked me and my boyfriend to do some certain things which will did, he told us that he is going to provide the herbal cure to me and my lover, which he did, then he asked us to go for medical checkup after some days after using the herbal cure,me and my lover has free from the deadly disease, he only asked me to post the testimony through the whole world, faithfully am doing it now, please brothers and sisters, he is great, I owe him in return. if you are having a similar problem just my life get transformed and everything was fine and Ok with me, till now I have been going to check up and its now going to four months now I am still negative. All thanks Goes to Dr Ofemo and My Friend for what he has done for me and my get Perfect healing for all kind of sicknesses and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Herpes,his email or his web/site: or cell number +2348163387496 his web/site

User Avatar

Joana Ruben   UK, Utah

9/9/2015 5:06:42 PM

I was been suffering hard ship from HIV/AIDS since 9yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by Miss Marilyn about how this powerful traditional doctor help her get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) " my fellow beloved" i firstly taught having a help from a spiritual traditional healer was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?" so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at , so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, i respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all his oracle said. I did all by accepting his oracle fact and only to see that the following week Dr dada, mail me on my mail box that my work is successfully done with his powers, i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power.With these i must to everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now,Email: or " sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessed sir.My name is Joana Ruben my Email address is:( you can contact his phone number+2348142705931

User Avatar

nacy   taxas, New York

8/17/2015 10:59:08 AM

Hello every body on this site, I want to give a testimony about my HIV virus that was cured by a great spell caster. Since last 4years now I have being an HIV patient. I never think I live long again and am so grateful about this great man called DR ADAGBA who cured my HIV AIDS last 3 weeks. I was in a great pain so I told one of my best friend called Susan; she told me that there is a great spell caster that can cure my HIV. I asked her if she had his email address, she gave me his email and I emailed him. He talked to me and he perform the necessary rituals and he told me that after two weeks I should go for a test and Which I did, when the doctor told me that am now an HIV negative, I couldn’t believe myself, I went to see another doctor the result was still the same, I was human on planet earth again, so I emailed him and thanked him. Please if you are having a similar problem please visit him/contact him on

User Avatar

katherine   london, International

7/28/2015 7:38:28 PM

This is my testimony about the good work of Dr voodoo who help me.... I'm Katherine from London. And am sorry for putting this on net but i will have to by this world top spell caster that brought back my husband which left me out for past 3 years, i eventually met this man on a blog site posting by one of is client for help, i explained everything to him and he told me about a spell caster that he had heard about and he gave me an email address to write to the spell caster to tell him my problems. In just 2 days, my husband was back to me. I just want to say thank you to this truthful and sincere spell caster, sir all you told have come to pass and thank you sir. Please i want to tell everyone who is looking for any solution to problem, i advice you to kindly consult this spell caster, he is real,he is powerful and whatever the spell caster tell is what will happen, because all what the spell caster told me came to pass. You can kindly contact him on: his email address is you can also add Dr.voodoo on whatsApp +2349035239472

Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below

First Name : Email :
International :
City : State :

Captcha Image

Get New Captcha

Top Products