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Separation Anxiety

If there’s one positive outcome of quarantine that states are starting to come out of, it’s the extra snuggle time pet parents have had with their pets. But that time may soon be coming to end, leaving pets wondering why their owners are all of a sudden leaving for long stretches of time again. Some pets may not have a hard time readjusting, while others may take it harder than others and start to show signs of separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety describes pets that are overly attached to family members. To avoid distressing pets with sudden changes, pet parents can take some time left in quarantine and help pets accommodate to the changing routine. For dogs, this should include putting them in a comfortable place for them like a room or their favorite crate. Just because they are by themselves though doesn’t mean that they still don’t need something to keep them preoccupied, so make sure to leave behind something that will keep them busy, like their favorite toy or food puzzles, or maybe leaving the tv or radio on for noise so that sounds outside don’t startle them.

Start by leaving for short periods of time such as running errands or going for a walk. If a pet shows signs of showing panic or a pet parent comes back to a mess, decrease the amount of time gone, even for a few seconds. If they start clawing at the door before a pet parent has left the house, come back only when they’re quiet. If pet parents return and it seems the pet has handled the separation well, make sure to reward with them with a treat so they know they have done a good job.

Cats are known as being more self sufficient than dogs, but cats still have strong attachments to their owners and can have a hard time adjusting too. Cat separation anxiety symptoms can include excessive vocalizations, over-grooming and having accidents on their owners things to mingle scents. Playing with a wand once a day will keep a cats hunting skills up and give them more confidence, while also building a bond with their owner. Make sure that whatever adjustments that have been made during quarantine can still be done when returning to work. If a cat has grown accustomed to being fed more during quarantine, start cutting feedings back to what they before. Cats instinctively want to forage for food, so if pet parents haven’t been using them before, now is a good time to invest in some puzzle feeders which can provide enrichment during alone time.

By taking these steps now, pet parents are helping themselves and their pets with the stress that can come with changing routines. While there’s a lot of change happening right now, the love between a pet parent and their pet is always the same.

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