Pet Separation Anxiety: The struggle is real!
Has your beautifully behaved pooch suddenly turned into a howling, shredding demon when you leave them on their own? Does your mild mannered pussycat sing an aria for the neighbors when left by themselves? If the answer is yes, your furry friend might be suffering from separation anxiety.
With kids going back to school and relaxing restrictions pulling many of us back in the office, we have to leave our four-legged friends on their own; in some cases for the first time in their lives. Whether you adopted a puppy or kitten during your stay at home or your long-time furry friend just got used to having you around all day; leaving them on their own is stressful for you both.
Five signs your pet might be suffering from separation anxiety
- Having accidents especially if they only occur when left alone
- Excessive barking, howling, meowing or yowling that carries on long after you leave
- Destructive behaviors - chewing, destroying furniture and digging at door and window frames or clawing furniture; curtains,etc
For dogs this can look like: not eating, pacing, eating their own poop
For cats this can look like: eating too fast/not eating, vomiting food/hairballs, excessive grooming
- Attempting (or succeeding) to escape.
Five things you can do to help your pets with separation anxiety
- Get them used to your departure clues: if they show signs of stress when you pick up your keys or put on your shoes, try changing your routine, put your shoes on and sit on the sofa for a while or pick up your keys and put them in your bag or pocket and don’t leave right away.
- Counter conditioning them to associate being left alone with good things: hunting for hidden piles of kibble, a yummy treat hidden in a toy that will take them time to finish or a toy that’s just a pleasure to play with.
- Create a safe space: For dogs, a crate (if they like their crate) or bed can give them a safe place to relax while you are gone. For cats: give them a nook or perch to help them feel secure. Add to that coziness with a blanket or item of clothing that smells like you.
- Take your dog for a long walk or exercise before leaving to tire them out or take them for a fun activity when you come back home so they associate a fun time with being left alone.
- Try an anti-anxiety treatment formulated for calming your cat or dog in combination with the above suggestions.
Things to remember:
Scolding or punishing your pet for behaviors caused by anxiety will likely worsen these behaviors. Your pet misses you and it's up to you to help them learn to cope with the stress.
Separation anxiety can differ in degree from mild to severe. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms it is important to consult your vet to rule out any other possible medical or environmental causes. For severe symptoms, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist can be consulted.
Are you the one with anxiety?
Pets aren’t the only ones who feel the anxiety of separation; we humans also miss our furry companions when we’re apart. We worry and obsess over their well-being when we are separated, sometimes even finding excuses to stay home with our pets!
What you can do if this is you:
Take a picture of your buddy with you to work. Ensure that your pet is safe by making sure their environment is safe; have a friend or neighbor check on them during the day or set up a "nanny cam" so you can keep an eye on them when you're not with them.
Visit our website to find out more about the products we carry to help you and your furry friend get used to being apart.