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Separation anxiety, a pet's extreme fear over separation from its owners, is a common problem seen in cats and dogs. Simply put, these pets are afraid of being left alone.


Signs that your pet might have separation anxiety include clinginess, barking and howling when you leave the house or go out of sight, destroying objects, and house soiling. Some pets can be left alone for no longer than a few minutes before they panic and exhibit these behaviours, others gradually become more and more stressed over the first thirty minutes or so after their owner’s departure and remain severely stressed throughout the day.


Almost all puppies become upset when left alone but as time passes, normal puppies become more confident about being alone for short periods. It is important to prepare young puppies so that they can cope with alone time. As adults, they are then able to accept the routine of owners leaving them on a regular basis even though in most cases they would prefer to have company.


There are some animals however that just cannot cope with being alone. These animals are not capable of coping with stressful situations because they are neurologically different from those who can. This is not a training issue. These dogs require appropriate medication to help them cope and to allow them to respond to a desensitisation program.


It is very important that this condition is properly diagnosed, treated and managed.


There are many reasons for cats to start urinating within the house. Frequently there is a medical reason for the behaviour, for example, cystitis (infection or inflammation of the bladder) or in an older cat pain from arthritis may make it reluctant to climb into a dirt box or to go outside.


If there is a change in your cat’s pattern of urination it is important to make an appointment with your vet to have the cat checked over and its urine tested.


If there is no physical health problem we need to assess behavioural causes.

Cats use urine to mark territory because it contains pheromones (chemical messengers) that other cats can detect. These pheromones contain information about the cat that produced the urine. The urine is often sprayed onto surfaces but can also be deposited without being sprayed. This is normal behaviour but is difficult to live with if they spray/urinate inside the house. Urine marking often increases in response to changes in the cat’s environment that make it feel insecure such as the arrival of new household items, renovations, a new baby or pet, or the departure of a family member or changes in attitude between other cats in the household.


The behaviour may also increase when a new cat moves into the neighbourhood and wanders into an established territory.


Dr Flint can help you to establish the cause of the behaviour and to remedy the situation.


Pets with this condition exhibit exaggerated behaviour patterns that last for longer than expected periods of time, are repetitive and out of context.


Common dog behaviours which might be classified as compulsive include spinning, tail chasing, foot chewing, sucking on a toy or a part of the body, pacing and shadow chasing. If you think your pet might be exhibiting abnormal behaviour, please do not hesitate to contact Animals With Attitude in Auckland today to find out how we can help.

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