For anxious/fearful pups, dog separation anxiety medication can make his life (and yours!) a lot calmer.
can be difficult to completely cure a dog of separation anxiety but you can definitely reduce his level of distress with behavioral modifications, natural products or prescription medicines.
Whether it's over the counter products or prescribed medications, the treatments for this particular behavioral issue are pretty much the same as those that you'd use for general canine anxiety, or situational/specific fears such as those of fireworks, car travel, thunderstorms and so on.
If you want to help your pet (and of course you do, or you wouldn't be here), it's a good idea to make sure you understand his separation issues, what causes them, what helps... and what doesn't.
I have several pages on my site that talk about this common problem (between 10 and 15% of dogs suffer from it at one time or another), and you might want to check them out and then come back here for treatment information:
Let's start off with the products or treatment that reduce canine anxiety levels gently and naturally.
These include flower essences and homeopathic remedies that can absorbed by your dog in a variety of ways, so it's easy to get him calmed down quickly.
Obviously not every remedy or product works for every dog. It can be a bit of trial-and-error before you find what works best for your dog in each situation.
Depending on the length of time you're away, whether or not your pup is confined, what type of anxiety symptoms (and to what degree) he shows you can often use more than one treatment at at time.
ALL medications or natural remedies work better, and faster, if you also work on helping your pup overcome his fears with behavior modification and training.
For instance you can use a natural food supplement or essence and a pheromone diffuser, or calming treats and a pheromone collar.
BUT don't ever combine natural products with prescribed medications, or use more than one product/drug at a time. That can have very dangerous, even deadly consequences!
Here are three other things you might want to try...
Dog relaxation CD's - these make a great addition to your efforts to calm your dog and can be quite miraculous.
Dog Movies - combining sound and action, 'The Movie For Dogs' can be a good distraction for a lonely pup.Just one warning - the soundtrack contains barking and doorbells ringing, if you think this will get your dog more wound up, keep the volume down/off there's still plenty of visual stuff to entertain him! Or try the Dog Sitter DVD's as an alternative.
All of these can also be used in conjunction with prescribed, or OTC medications :)
Canine Less Stress
This is my first choice and an all natural product that is hugely popular - maybe even the best herbal anti-anxiety treatment for dogs that doesn't need a prescription.
Gently and effectively reduces anxiety and calms your pup without sedating him. Helps with all sorts of anxious or fearful behavior, regardless of the 'trigger'.
No know side effects when given as recommended and in the right dosage. Liquid can be added to food/water or on his tongue.
Anxiety/Fear Flower Essences
A natural flower essence product can calm and relax your dog, in all sorts of stressful situations.
it for trips to the vet, new situations, thunderstorms, anxiety due to
mistreatment in the past, competition, anxiety/panic attacks, dog
separation anxiety issues and more.
This 100% natural homeopathic remedy helps to reduce anxious behaviors and relieve fears and stresses.
Granules can be dissolved in water or sprinkled on your dog's tongue. Helps with all types of anxious behavior whether caused by noise, travel, separation and more.
Thorne Research SedaplusVET
A herbal remedy with a natural, gentle sedative effect.
It helps calm and relax your dog so that he feels less anxious and more inclined to nap or rest when crated or traveling.
Synergy Pet Calm, 2 Ounce
Another 100% natural product that is good at relieving the symptoms of stress and anxiety in dogs.
You can add the liquid to food, water or put it directly on your pet's tongue.
Reduces hyperactivity and makes him feel much more calm.
Happytails Canine Spa Line Sleepy Time Tonic Herbal Elixir
Natural elixir that contains calming herbs combined with Bach Flower essences.
Will gently calm your pup, reducing anxiety and stress-related behaviors such as whining, panting, hyper-activity and more.
Add a few drops to his food, water, a treat, or directly onto his tongue. Made in the USA.
Pheromones are natural chemicals that a momma dog produces to calm her puppies. Her pups smell it and relax.
The following products all reproduce this chemical scent 'signature' and are a very gentle way to reduce stress and calm your pet.
It's worth noting that they aren't a 'quick-fix' like the way the essences/products above are. A pheromone-based product may take a few days to being working. But it's worth the wait.
Comfort Zone with DAP for Dogs Diffuser and Single Refill
Pheromone products release pheromones into the air surrounding your pet, calming him gently and naturally.
Simple plug-in diffuser can be used in any room to comfort your pet.
One refill included.
D.A.P. Dog Appeasing Pheromone Spray (60ml)
This spray works in basically the same way as the diffuser above.
It can be sprayed on your pet's bedding or clothing, on furniture, in the car, on a blanket in his crate.... it's very versatile!
D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) Collar for Puppies and Small Dogs
Keep your pet cocooned in his own little bubble of relaxing pheromones with one of these collars.
Works exactly the same way as the above products, but it goes wherever your pet goes.
Just one safety warning - it's not recommended that you leave any collar on a dog who is crated and unsupervised. I'd recommend using the diffuser/spray when you're gone and the collar when you're home.
There are a variety of different dog calming food supplements in the form treats.
These can be a very quick and easy way of 'taking the edge off' when your dog is anxious or stressed.
The only down side here is they're not great for long periods of anxiety and there's a limit to the number of treats/tabs/wafers (usually only 2 or 3) that you can give per day.
Pet Naturals Calming for Small Dogs (21 count)
Chewy treats that your dog will enjoy, even as they help him feel less worried.
Natural ingredients help reduce anxiety, irritability and hyper-active behavior.
Will make your pup 'mellow' and relaxed, without seeming drugged.
Composure for Medium and Large Dogs, 60 Soft Chews
Tasty liver flavored bite-sized chews with 3 special ingredients to help reduce your pet's anxiety levels.
They will calm him and reduce hyperactive behavior without making him drowsy.
Good for all types of stressful situations.
All of the above products are gentle, natural medications or treatments which will help to calm your dog and reduce his anxiety without the use of sedative drugs.
For the majority of dogs who have mild to moderate separation anxiety, these products alone or combined with behavioral modification and training methods (link to learn more at top of page) can work wonders.
But a small percentage of dogs can suffer from extreme separation anxiety, this is more common in those who are naturally nervous or fearful by nature. For them, your vet may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, an anti-depressant or a sedative.
Prescription medications can interact with other products your dog is taking, either prescribed or OTC, so always make sure your vet knows about anything else you're giving your pet - including natural, herbal or homeopathic products.
Here's a quick look at a few of the most commonly vet-prescribed dog separation anxiety medications:
This is what's called an SSRI drug (Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitor) which helps control anxious and OCD behavior (which includes separation anxiety) as well as depression and aggression.
It is one of the few medications that the FDA has approved for treating separation anxiety in dogs, and one of the most popular ones - but for best results it is recommended that you use in in conjunction with behavioral modification techniques as I talked about earlier.
Potential side effects include drowsiness/dizziness and digestive upset or loss of appetite. Also, this type of medication can sometimes have the opposite effect to that intended!
Increased hyper-activity, restlessness or an increase in anxious behavior is possible and obviously if that happens you need to talk to your vet right away. These should diminish as your dog's body adjusts to the drug. The biggest worry with this drug is that it can have serious implications if it is taken at the same time as some other medications.
Make absolutely sure your vet knows of any medication or natural treatment or product that your dog is also taking!
It can take several weeks for improvement of symptoms to start as it takes a while for the medication to build up in your pet's body. Fluoxetine isn't designed to be taken indefinitely, or for a long time, but by combining it with behavioral training the short-term use (perhaps 3 - 6 months) is usually enough.
This is an anti-depressant that's usually used to treat all sorts of behavioral problems in dogs, that stem from anxiety or fear, including aggression, scent-marking, OCD behaviors (such as spinning or tail-chasing) and of course, canine separation anxiety.
It works by increasing the levels of serotonin in your dog's brain which reduces the feelings of stress and anxiety, and is sometimes called 'Puppy Prozac'.
Of course as with all drugs there are potential side effects and these include digestive upsets such as vomiting and/or diarrhea, increased thirst, and can also lead to more serious and long-term liver problems.
Your dog will probably need regular blood tests while he takes this medicine, to make sure that it doesn't have any ill-effects on his body.
Clomipramine can interact badly with other medications or natural remedies, so be sure to discuss anything else you are giving/want to give, your dog. Also, if your pet has ever had a seizure or has gluacoma this is not the drug for him.
As with just about all prescribed medications for anxiety, there is a sedative action which means that your dog may well appear 'drugged' - making him sluggish, sleepy and sometimes a bit 'out of it'.
It can take several weeks for the full effects of this type of anti-anxiety drug to show up (both positive and negative) and for your pet's system to adjust to the medication. His level of sedation will likely lessen as he adjusts, but the treatment should reach maximum effectiveness at around the same time.
This is a tricyclic anti-depressant which is also used to treat anxiety disorders, including separation difficulties.
It also works on your dog's brain chemicals, putting them back into 'balance' and reducing the symptoms of fear, stress and anxiety.
Minor side effects include drowsiness (sedation), dizziness, loss of appetite and sometimes difficulty urinating or a rapid heartbeat.
Amitriptyline can also react adversely with many other drugs or products, so double-check everything with your vet.
It can start to be effective more quickly than the first two dog separation anxiety medications above, usually within about 2 weeks.
You have a lot of choices when it comes to dog separation anxiety medications, and personally I'd recommend starting off with the natural products because they're safer, have less side-effects and are often very effective.
If this doesn't work out for your pet, of if his symptoms are really severe, then talk to your vet about prescription drugs that might help.
Either way, combine the treatment you choose with behavioral modification and training to improve the effectiveness of the treatment.