Older dog experiencing new separation anxiety

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Older dog experiencing new separation anxiety

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy, 

We have a 16-1/2-year-old rescue Jack Russell. He is the love of our lives. He recently went deaf and now is almost blind as well. He recently underwent surgery to have 13 teeth pulled. He’s a real trooper. Even though he has all these old age issues, he remains spry when he’s up.

He has, however, begun to howl and bark when we’re not home. Unfortunately, I have an 85-year-old mother who lives downstairs and is having a real hard time with this. She’s never been a pet person. We don’t go out often and try to get our kid to watch him, but if I am not in the house, he whines horribly and cries for hours. It’s so painful to watch, but I can’t be here 24 hours a day every day. Is there anything we can do? He’s been to the vet and they say his blood work is better than a human’s!

– Lauren, Wantagh, New York

Dear Lauren,

Any change in behavior can often be tracked back to health issues, so I am glad you ruled that out first.

Sometimes, as dogs and cats age, they get a little clingier. If your dog is only howling when you are gone, this can be a form of separation anxiety. Instead of destroying your house though, he is destroying your mom’s peace of mind.

Treat this like anxiety. Get him an Anxiety Wrap or ThunderShirt to wear when you are not home. Give him some over the counter calming chews, put a few drops of Rescue Remedy in his water, or give him melatonin (1 mg two to three times a day).

If these natural methods of reducing anxiety don’t calm your dog, talk to your vet about a mild anti-anxiety medication. I think if you treat him for anxiety, you will get results.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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