Separation Anxiety Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs and cats

Dog separation anxiety will often cause your dog to urinate or defecate inside the house. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety destroy walls and furniture and injure themselves trying to claw out of their crates. Other dogs are less physically destructive, but suffer equal anxiety. These dogs pace, bark, drool, shake, and pant. Some develop compulsive behaviors, such as tail or leg chewing.

Cat separation anxiety will often cause your cat to urinate or defecate outside the litter box—usually on your bed. Some cats are destructive and push things off counters or tear up furniture and toys. They may pull their hair out (barbering). Other cats are equally anxious but less physically active. They pace, meow, yowl, and refuse to eat.

Your pet's symptoms of separation anxiety are generally worse the first 15 minutes he or she is alone, but can persist the entire time you're away.

Separation anxiety in dogs:

  • Urinate & defecate in the home
  • Destroy furniture, walls, crates
  • Pace, howl, bark, yelp, drool, shake, pant
  • Compulsively chew tails or legs

Separation anxiety in cats:

  • Urinate on the owner's bed or outside the litter box
  • Meow, yowl
  • Push things off counters
  • Tear up furniture and stuffed toys
  • Pull out hair (psychogenic grooming or barbering)
Separation anxiety in male and female cats

Male cats tend to be destructive. Female cats tend to over-groom or barber their hair leaving bald spots (barbering). Whether your cat is male or female, intact or altered, the older your cat is, the more likely your cat is to have separation anxiety.

How are pets diagnosed with separation anxiety?

Pet separation anxiety is diagnosed when owners find their homes destroyed after they have been away for a while. It is also diagnosed when neighbors complain that your pet whines, cries, meows, and paces when you're away. In-home videos help diagnose separation anxiety by revealing pets crying, hiding, and looking despondent while you're away.

You can try to catch your cat or dog doing something destructive when you leave by pretending to leave and then waiting to see or hear what happens. Mostly it starts with crying or whimpering, and then progresses to scratching at the door. This usually makes you as a pet owner very sad, and causes distress. Don't worry, these feelings are normal.It is a hard thing to deal with. If you go back in, in a way, your pet has won because you are back for the moment. If you come back in and yell, they don't really understand. The best way to deal with this is to desensitize your pet.