While humans lamented the shelter-in-place orders that forced them to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, pets all over the world rejoiced as their companions no longer left them alone for long hours during the day. However, as businesses begin to reopen and pet owners return to work, these furry friends might not take too kindly to the sudden change in routine.
For the past eight months, your pets have grown accustomed to having your company throughout the day. While some may adjust without issue to your sudden return to work, others might struggle with separation anxiety due to your absence. Helping your pet cope with separation anxiety as you return to work isn’t always easy, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure your pal stays as paw-sitive as possible.
Understanding Separation Anxiety in Pets
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Just like humans, animals delight in having a routine they can trust, and that provides them with a sense of stability. Think back to how you felt when the coronavirus outbreak started: You may have felt scared, withdrawn, depressed, or even self-destructive. Pets experience these same feelings when their routines are turned upside down.
Separation anxiety is categorized by a severe aversion to being left alone. Pets can demonstrate a broad range of symptoms that can indicate to their owners that they have a real problem with being left to their own devices. It’s important for pet owners to understand when and if their furry friend has such an issue so they can help them adjust accordingly.
Signs Your Pet Has Separation Anxiety
There are a number of different ways in which your pet can communicate to you that they have separation anxiety, including:
- Hiding or appearing withdrawn
- Relieving themselves in the home (or outside the litter box if you have cats)
- Scratch marks on windows and doors from trying to escape
- Destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, scratching, etc.
- Hypersalivation (excessive drooling)
- Increased barking, whining, crying, etc.
Sometimes pet owners won’t know about their friend’s separation anxiety until they return home after being away for long hours. Perhaps they left you a not-so-thoughtful present in the form of a new carpet stain or a destroyed couch cushion. Don’t worry: You aren’t doomed to a life indoors. There are simple steps you can take to ensure both you and your pet can achieve a greater state of emotional well-being during your hours apart.
Tips for Helping Pets Cope When You Return to Work
Pets are highly intelligent and can be trained to feel more confident when their owners aren’t at home. By using the tips below, you can help your furry friend feel better about spending time alone while you’re at work:
- Stay Calm: Even though it can make you feel good inside that your pet wants you to stay, it’s important not to encourage anxious behavior by giving them attention when they exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety. Stay calm and only give your pet attention once they’ve calmed down, too.
- Start Slow: Give your pet a chance to adjust by taking 15-minute breaks apart. Once they’re able to handle 15 minutes away from you, increase the time apart by another 15 minutes, and so on until you feel comfortable in their ability to be alone.
- Exercise Daily: Make sure your pet is thoroughly exercised before you leave for the day, as this will help them stay relaxed. Give them some more exercise when you get home so they can burn off the excess energy they have pent up from being alone all day as well.
- Food Puzzles: Leave your pet with a fun food puzzle to keep them entertained while you’re away.
- Desensitize Objects: Try wearing your shoes inside while hanging out at home and leaving your keys out for your pets to see that these objects aren’t always associated with your departure.
- Keep Company: Have a friend or neighbor stop by to keep your pet company if you think they need more attention than you’re able to provide with your busy schedule.
Training your pet to be alone without fear is the first step to living a happier, healthier life together!
When to See Your Germantown Vet
In some cases, your pal might have a bit more difficulty adjusting to the change. That’s okay — the veterinary professionals at Germantown Vet are available to help find a treatment that’s suitable for your best friend’s separation anxiety. If your pet has severe anxiety that can’t be cured through training, reach out to our team to schedule an appointment and begin their path to wellness today.