You Make The Diagnosis: Dog Destroyed Carpet In Owners Absence

This case is about my own dog, a young German Shepard mix that I rescued last spring.  Buddy is a timid boy.  He is afraid of men, especially if they are dressed in a suite and tie with a brief case in hand.  When I am home, Buddy follows me from room to room.  He never leaves my side.   

A few days before Christmas, I left Buddy in his crate for a few hours while I finished Christmas shopping.  When I returned, Buddy greeted me at the door.  He had broken out of his crate and ripped-up the carpeting in front of the bedroom doors.  He tore a nail in the process.  Blood from a torn nail and saliva were visible in his crate, the doors and what was left of the carpeting.   Take a look at the photo and answer the following questions:  Name the condition Buddy suffers from?  What caused it?


Diagnosis:  Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is common in animals who are adopted from shelters or rescued from abusive situations.  The animal panics whenever it is separated from human family members.  They love their people so much, they do not want to lose them.  Buddy exhibited three of the four common signs of this problem; He whined and howled when I left the house without him, he drooled excessively and he destroyed anything that stood in the way of him following me.  Some dogs may also urinate and defecate.  I wish I had been more cognizant of the warning signs at an earlier stage.

To treat Buddy, I replaced his plastic crate with a larger, wire one.  I placed it in a new room and started a new departure/entry routine.  I also started him on clomipramine to calm him down while we work through behavior modification techniques.  Lastly, I increased his exercise.  In the last two weeks, Buddy has made remarkable progress.  He no longer whines or howls when I leave.  I hope to taper him off of the clomipramine in a few months. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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