Q: I have been out of work for almost a year. During that time my dog Max has become used to having me around all day. We go on multiple walks and he is able to go out whenever he needs to. He was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and he drinks a lot of water and urinates frequently. The treatment for Cushing’s is very expensive and unfortunately out of my affordability range. I will be going back to work in a week and he will be left alone all day. I do not have anyone that can check on him. Do you have any advice for how I can help him adjust to this change and to being left alone all day? He is very important to me and I don’t want to stress him anymore than I have to.
— Marie and best friend Max
A: Congratulations on your new job.
I have a few suggestions on how to keep Max occupied while you are gone during the day but first let’s touch on his health. You mentioned that he has been diagnosed with Cushing’s (hyperadrenocorticism) but you cannot afford the treatment. There are two medications given to dogs with the condition — Trilostane, which is given daily, and Mitotane, which is given daily for a week then once weekly.
Depending on the size of your dog, Mitotane may be more economical but does come with more risks. This may be worth bringing up to your veterinarian.
You can try to find a service in your area that will come to your house during the day to take Max out for a walk if daycare is not open before you leave in the morning. If that isn’t an option, I recommend confining him to a non-carpeted area when you are gone. I have a client who uses a litter box for her dogs with a special litter called Puppy Go Potty. She brought some in to show me and it is a hard pelleted paper-type product. She explained that it lasts about a month and there is no smell with her two dogs.
I have not used it myself, but her excitement about the product makes me think it is worth a try. It can be ordered from www.puppygopotty.com.
Keeping Max occupied for 30 to 60 minutes after you leave is the best way to reduce anxiety. Most dogs with separation issues have the hardest time in the first hour. You can keep him occupied with toys. Two examples are Kong toys stuffed with dry kibble mixed with broth or peanut butter then frozen and special treat toys available at most pet stores that require your dog to do something to get a treat released.
Adaptil is a pheremone product that helps calm and relax dogs. It is the pheremone that mother dogs release while nursing puppies and it works great for most dogs. The products come in collars, sprays and room infusers. Classical music is also very calming to dogs. I would try a combination of things to get the maximum benefits.
Make sure to set aside some time every night where he gets your full attention. This will give him something he can look forward to and depend on every day.
Getting his frequent urinations under control will be the key to a happy transition. Even with Cushing’s he may be able to hold it until you come home, but he will be quite uncomfortable. Finding a service to let him out midday, running home at lunch to take him out, or getting him trained in a litter box are your best options if medical treatment is not possible.
— Dr. Connie White Lawless
Pet Vet Animal Clinic
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