How can we better address separation anxiety? Are these medical problems common among the GSD breed? Is this something that she can grow out of as a puppy? Would you ever recommend medication? Outside of more intense daily exercise, is there any other solution?
My GSD is now 1 year old and we had a very serious incident occur last week. She developed a severe case of bloody diarrhea and vomiting which resulted in a day long clinic visit and subsequent hospital treatment for two days. During this ordeal, she lost 10 lbs (from 68 to 58) and the Vet claims she came very close to death. Had we not sent her to the clinic and received treatment immediately to address the problems, she may not have survived.
Our GSD has started eating again and is on her road to recovery, but this incident was very traumatic I want to ensure it never happens again. Unfortunately, the Vet couldn't identify what exactly had caused the sickness, but could only rule out foreign objects in her stomach, major viruses, and other known illnesses. The only reasonable explanation provided is that she either ate something on one of her walks (not likely since we are vigilant, but possible) or she has serious stress or anxiety that has cause her to get sick. The Vet said she most likely has a chronically sensitive stomach and major anxiety that combined to create this problem. Outside of the short term medication to get her back on track, she recommended daily pepcid AC and anxiety medication for the long term. I'm OK with giving the pepcid, but I'm hesitant to use medication to resolve behavioural issues such as anxiety.
We leave her crated during the day and she had managed to chew a hole under the door of the crate. She has also scratched every square centimeter of the crate. We are replacing her plastic crate with a Leerburg Aluminum crate to prevent any other opportunities for chewing and possible sickness, but this won't prevent anxiety. We take her on walks 3x a day and feed her a consistent diet. I know she has separation anxiety as she does have trouble when either my wife or I leave our house she whines and searches around the house for 30 minutes...and this is when the other is still in the house. When we both leave, we can hear her digging in her crate for the first 30 minutes as well.
My questions is how can we better address separation anxiety? Are these medical problems common among the GSD breed? Is this something that she can grow out of as a puppy? Would you ever recommend medication? Outside of more intense daily exercise, is there any other solution?
Dogs prone to separation anxiety (especially when crated) need to learn the crate is part of their daily life. A lot of people start leaving their dog out of the crate, because dealing with the issue can be difficult at first. Dogs like yours need very firm structure and leadership. They need a predictable routine. I’d suggest Pack Structure for the Family Pet.
Without knowing the cause of the gastrointestinal issues, it’s hard to say if this is a medical problem from something viral or eaten or if it is indeed a manifestation of stress. I’m with you on being leery of anxiety prescriptions. At 1 year old, there is a lot of training to try before going to drugs.
We do have some natural & herbal supplements that can be added to her food to help her be more calm, they are not dangerous like giving Prozac or some of the other drugs vets prescribe. Rescue Remedy can be given as needed. Calm Shen is added to daily meals.