What is Separation Anxiety?

In short, it is a condition in which dogs suffer from anxiety when left alone. One out of every six dogs may suffer from canine separation anxiety. It can be seen in young dogs who do not adapt to being separated from their owners. Dogs who suffer from other anxiety disorders such as noise phobias/thunderstorm phobia can have an increased predisposition to developing separation anxiety. Changes in household activity, such as kids going back to school after summer, can trigger separation anxiety in dogs that typically do not show symptoms at other times of the year.

  • Destructive behavior is commonly directed towards exits from the home, such as windows or doorways. This may also mean attempts to escape from confined areas such as crates or rooms. You may also see destruction directed towards personal items such as remote control units, pillows, clothing, etc.

  • Vocalization typically presents as a monotonous sound (a single tone in which the bark does not change much in pitch), persistent howling, or barking.

  • Elimination: you can see stool and/or urine accidents when your dog is left alone or thinks she is alone. The material is often in multiple locations because the dog is pacing due to anxiety and thus goes in the areas where she is pacing. The stool can often be abnormal and have a slimy, mucus look.

  • Hypersalivation or drooling: anxiety results in increased drooling, so you may see puddles of thick saliva in the crate or near an exit where the dog may be scratching to get out. You also may see heightened thirst when you return home as the drooling and panting may cause some dehydration.

It is important to recognize that all these signs can occur for reasons other than separation anxiety. In order for separation anxiety to be diagnosed the symptoms must be associated with your dog being alone or thinking he/she is alone. Video monitoring is useful to characterize symptoms and severity of separation anxiety.


Reducing separation anxiety involves increasing your dog’s level of independence, reducing the excitement associated with your departure, and adapting your dog’s ability to be alone. In many cases, anti-anxiety medication will be prescribed to help reduce anxiety during the initial relearning phase of treatment. In many cases, the anti-anxiety medications can be discontinued when the desired long-term behaviour has been consistently exhibited. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety are panicked, fearful and traumatized when left alone so remember punishment never alleviates anxiety and has no place in treatment of separation anxiety.


  1. Relieve energy by going for a fast paced 15-20 minute walk every morning and evening. Just like people, stress will be reduced by external stimulation and exercise.

  2. Do not reward behaviours, like barking or jumping up, that are exhibited during times of anxiety. Consistent, structured, positive attention given during an obedience training session is an excellent way to build confidence and will help to refocus energy on a positive outlet.

  3. When you come home, ignore your dog until he/she is relaxed. You should not touch, look or talk to your dog. This is one of the most important steps in retraining. Once your dog is relaxed, you can give a command then give the verbal and physical reward that you both love.

  4. Do not make a big deal of leaving the house. You do not need to make a fuss over him/her when leaving. Simply leave in a calm and unhurried manner. If you find that your dog becomes anxious when you perform activities associated with you leaving, such as picking up keys, or your purse or putting on a coat, start to do these activities when you are not leaving so that he/she does not associate them with you leaving the house.

  5. Work on teaching your dog to be alone. Teach your dog to lie in specific locations in the house and when this behaviour is consistently demonstrated try leaving him/her alone in the area for longer periods of time. All verbal and physical rewards should be very low key so as not to increase “coming and going anxiety”.

  6. Dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) is a synthetic pheromone that can help produce a calming effect on dogs on a continual basis in the home. This is a safe product with variable effects on different dogs with different levels of anxiety.

  7. Cage training can be helpful in dogs that are destructive to the house and have shown acceptance of a crate. However, cage training is not for all dogs as some dogs with separation anxiety will also exhibit confinement anxiety. These dogs become very stressed when confined and may cause damage to their teeth and nails when trying to get out of the cage.

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COVID-19 Message to our Clients

To Our Valued Clients,

Our top priority is to provide exceptional care to our patients while safeguarding our staff and our community.  We continue to maintain our regular business hours and we are available to see you and your pets for essential veterinary health care services.

We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and want to notify you of changes we are making at for the welfare of our staff, clients and patients. We have taken great care to implement safeguards to help reduce the spread of this virus.

Amended Procedures:

  • The doors to the hospital will be closed to the public
  • Visitors to the hospital must remain outside the hospital. This includes walk-ins, appointments and food/prescription purchases.
  • We will not be performing fit-n-fury, birthday exams, nail trims, routine dentals and non-essential surgeries until further advised.
  • We will no longer accept cash or in-person payment.




  • A copy of our admittance and discharge instructions and patient history forms will be sent to you prior to the scheduled appointment.
  • Please remain in your vehicle and call us when you arrive in the parking lot.
  • We will assess your Covid-19 risk using the "patient screening pathway”.
  • When we are ready, we will motion for you to bring your pet from your vehicle to the clinic door. All dogs must be on leash and cats must be in carriers.
  • The veterinarian will call at the end of the examination or video conference you during the examination to discuss examination findings and recommendations.


  • You will be emailed a copy of the invoice including home notes.
  • Payment will be taken over the phone, via Interac e-Transfer, or online.
  • Any medication or items to be picked up will be given in a plastic bag at the time of discharge.
  • We will call you when we are ready for discharge at which time you will collect your pet outside of the clinic.

Food, inventory and medication pickup:

  • All items can be ordered over the phone or purchased using our online shop https://shop.avonleaanimalhospital.ca
  • For pickup, we will bring the items to you outside the clinic.

Product availability:

We have been in constant contact with the suppliers and manufacturers responsible for ensuring our hospitals have sufficient supply of veterinary diets and over the counter products, and we do not anticipate any disruption to this supply. However, instances of buying large quantities of these products have strained the supply chain. We respectfully request that our clients limit their purchases of these products to immediate need plus one month’s supply to ensure all clients and patients have access to these products.

Our goal is to keep our essential services available to the communities we serve and to be there for you and your pets. Thank you for your cooperation and for doing your part in helping to keep pets and people safe. Please do not hesitate to call with questions. We anticipate our phone lines will be busier than usual and we thank you in advance for your patience!

Our new hours of operation are as follows:

  • Monday: 9a-7p
  • Tuesday: 9a-7p
  • Wednesday: 9a-7p
  • Thursday: 9a-7p
  • Friday: 9a-7p
  • Saturday: 9a-3p
  • Sunday: closed

Call us if you have questions or need to schedule an appointment.