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Only the Lonely

only the lonely

Does your dog chew, scratch, whine or bark when left alone? Or does your cat urinate in your bed or meow loudly? While more common in dogs than cats, you may be tempted to conclude your pet has separation anxiety. It's important to properly evaluate the behavior to avoid a misdiagnosis and delay in proper training or treatment to correct the issue as many of the behaviors and cues associated with separation anxiety can also be attributed to other medical or behavioral concerns.

 
Separation anxiety behaviors are very focused, occurring only when the pet is separated from her human. In dogs, they also seem frantic in nature and your pup may even show a disregard for personal safety, continuing even through injury to herself such as broken nails, scratches or cuts. A dog with true separation anxiety will focus her destructive behavior on windows or doors, or on attempting to get back to her human, such as escaping from a kennel. Or a dog with separation anxiety may exhibit her stress by eliminating in the house or through excessive vocalization such as barking, whining or howling. However, it is important to determine if the behavior is the result of an outside stimulus, such as cars driving by or the mailman knocking on the door or if it is truly the result of a mild separation distress or a true separation anxiety. At Westgate Pet Clinic, we’re here to help!
 
Often, separation anxiety in cats can manifest as loud vocalization or improper elimination, such as urinating in your bed or in your laundry. While you may be tempted to scold your cat, it's important to understand the situation from his point of view. As long as you've brought him in and we've ruled out any medical concerns such as a urinary tract infection, your cat is trying to help you find your way home by doing the feline equivalent of leaving a breadcrumb trail. Cats may also be over-enthusiastic in their greeting when a pet parent returns, head butting or being continuously underfoot. Another way cats exhibit separation anxiety is by hiding out. While a pet parent may interpret this as normal aloof cat behavior, it is the cat's way of dealing with being stressed. Often, cats are fine with short separations, such as when you need to be at work, but exhibit anxious behaviors if left alone for longer periods, such as a family vacation, so you may not be aware of your cat's need for reassurance that you will return until after that first big trip. In either species, a true separation anxiety will mean that the only thing that will stop the behavior is the return of the pet parent.
 
When dealing with behavior issues that could be attributed to separation anxiety or another factor, it is important to determine the root cause of the issue. Improperly diagnosing your pet as having separation anxiety can mean inappropriately addressing the behavior and increasing the frustration level for both you and your beloved pet while failing to resolve the behavioral issues. By the same token, misinterpreting your pet's separation anxiety behaviors for other behavioral issues could lead to the sad conclusion that your pet is not a good fit in your home and family and result in her surrender to another family or shelter, increasing her potential for developing true separation anxiety. The suspicion that your pet may have separation anxiety makes it important to consult with us at Westgate Pet Clinic to verify the concern and set up a program to appropriately address the situation. Just as with many issues our pets face, there are a variety of options for treatment and alleviation of symptoms, such as behavior modification therapies, pheromone diffusers (Adaptil or Feliway, depending on your pet’s species) and other prescription options that are available in our clinic or through our online store. The main thing would be to ensure your furry friend is getting the treatment that is right for her level of separation anxiety and that it alleviates both her symptoms and the frustration you both naturally experience due to the situation.
 
If your pet is exhibiting signs of true separation anxiety, we urge you to make an appointment by calling (612) 925-1121 to discuss the issue and create a plan to ease her distress. It will take time and patience, but both you and your four-legged friend will be happier when she is able to tolerate being left alone.
 
Copyright © 2018 by Uhlig LLC. All rights reserved 

The Top Summer Safety Issues for Dogs and Cats

The Top Summer Safety Issues for Dogs and Cats

Image credit: Pixabay

Now that summer is finally here, you and your pet can spend more time outdoors enjoying all that the season has to offer. Like the other three seasons, summer presents unique safety challenges for our companion animals. The good news is that you can enjoy a wonderful summer with your pet by taking a few simple precautions recommended by our Westgate Pet Clinic veterinarians.

While dozens of potential issues could arise in the warm weather season, here are the ones that pet owners encounter most frequently:

Fireworks season: Independence Day may be only one day, but the fireworks used to help celebrate it can last for weeks before and after the actual 4th of July. Many communities have other festivals that include fireworks throughout the summer. Unfortunately, the constant loud booms can terrify some dogs and cats. We encourage you to shop in our online store for a Thundershirt to help reduce anxiety or to ask us about medication options if your pet is especially fearful and anxious of loud noises.

Outdoor barbeques: Cooking food outside is practically a rite of summer. From a pet’s perspective, the heavenly aromas may be too strong to resist. This can cause an otherwise well-mannered pet to try to grab meat off the grill, dig through the garbage, swipe food from guests, or become food possessive. It’s best to help your pet avoid temptation by keeping her in the house or kennel.

Lost Pets: The sound of fireworks, having the kids at home all day, and more people coming to the door are just some of the things that can make a pet feel over anxious or excited. This can cause him to dart out the door at the first opportunity. Without a microchip, statistics are not in favor of your pet returning home. Even a tag and collar can slip off or get caught on an object such as a fence. When a pet has a microchip, the person finding your pet can take them to the nearest veterinary clinic or animal shelter for scanning. Since the chip registry holds information you’ve provided, you’ll want to ensure that your contact information is current.

Increased Risk of Tick-Borne Diseases: According to the website Pets and Parasites, the population of ticks is especially high this year and it increases the risk of companion animals contracting a serious disease. This includes Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Prevention just makes sense. We carry several tick prevention products in our online store. Our veterinarians are happy to help you choose the most appropriate one for your dog or cat.

These are just four potential summer hazards that your pet faces this summer. Please let us know if you have additional questions or schedule an appointment today by calling (612) 925-1121. We wish you a fun, happy and safe summer!

Our Mission:

We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.

 
 
 

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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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(612)925-1121
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