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HOME ALONE: THE FOUR-LEGGED SEQUEL

 DENVER, April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Although Macaulay Culkin has successfully stayed Home Alone, the results of staying home alone for extended periods of time may not be quite as glamorous for dogs and cats, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
 Separation anxiety, brought on by changes in work schedules, travel or other circumstances which effect the living environment and/or relationship between pet and owner, can result in negative or destructive behavior by the pet.
 "Pets are very aware of changes in their daily life and can become extremely anxious when these changes occur," said Wayne Hunthausen, DVM, an AAHA veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior issues. "The result may include excessive barking, clawing, house soiling and chewing objects in the house. The behavior can even be triggered by the sight of a suitcase or household items being boxed up for a move."
 If left inside, a pet's investigative behavior begins, and trash cans, cabinets and bags of food are common targets.
 A break-in period for pets may help alleviate behavior problems, according to Hunthausen. Adjusting pets to spend more time alone, or slowly preparing the pet to spend a few days or a week in the care of another person, may also ease some of the separation anxiety. Some breeds seem to do better than others. Cats, because they evolve from a more independent species, also do better on their own than dogs.
 Special feeders which dispense a certain amount of food each day help in providing care for a pet while the owners are away. Regardless of how well prepared you are, it's important to have someone check on the pet every day.
 "It only takes one day for some health problems to cause life threatening illness," said Hunthausen. "Urinary tract infections, or similar illnesses can develop within a 24-hour period. Also, cats or small breed dogs left inside may be in danger of furniture or other heavy items falling on them."
 There are options to leaving pets home alone. Thanks to the increase in two-income families, the pet sitting business is booming. For a fee, approximately $10 - $15 per day, a pet sitter will take care of your pet in your own home. Like other service businesses, AAHA recommends that you check referrals from bonded pet sitters. In addition to pet sitting, kennels offer an alternative for people who will be out of town for an extended period of time. It is also important to check referrals and, make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date. AAHA recommends checking the kennel's requirements and touring the facility one week prior to the pet's stay.
 AAHA is an international organization of more than 11,000 veterinarians who treat companion animals such as dogs and cats. Established in 1933, the association is well-known for its high standards for animal hospitals and pet health care.
 -0- 4/13/93
 /CONTACT: Wayne Hunthausen of AAHA, 913-362-2512; or Marty Schechter of Kyla Thompson & Associates, 303-295-0555, for AAHA/


CO: American Animal Hospital Association ST: Colorado IN: SU:

SM -- NYPFNS2 -- 4999 04/13/93 07:02 EDT
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Date:Apr 13, 1993
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