Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, life has changed dramatically for humans as well as their pets. As governments imposed lockdowns and travel restrictions, we’ve spent less time traveling and more time at home with our pets. While our lives are slowly beginning to resume normalcy with the rollout of vaccinations across the globe, our beloved pets may require some time and help to adjust to the return of normal life.
According to studies, 17 percent of U.S. employees worked from home 5 days a week before the pandemic. That number ballooned to 44 percent as quarantines, office safety concerns, and issues commuting forced businesses to shift from in-person offices to telecommuting. With a record number of workers staying home, pets have grown used to nearly 24/7 access to their pet parents. As the workforce returns to the office, pet parents might be surprised to learn how much anxiety this new separation could cause their pets.
It’s important to note that separation anxiety in pets usually involves crying, barking, howling, or whining when left alone. (Some pets might be stage-one clingers, following you room to room and may look disappointed when they see you put on your coat to leave. However, missing you when you’re leaving isn’t the same as separation anxiety!)
Other signs your pet may have separation anxiety include destructive behaviors such as…
1. Chewing & licking (this includes their own paws or furniture, etc.)
2. Scratching (Furniture, doors, or gates)
3. Urinating or defecating (in inappropriate places).
Slowly introduce barriers between you and your pet for intervals of time. For dogs, pet parents can utilize baby gates and leashes to create distance between themselves and their pets to slowly let their furry family get used to the idea that distance isn’t something to be feared.
For cats, place your cat in another room and close the door for short periods of time, increasing the intervals as time goes on. If your cat has particular trouble adjusting to time alone, we recommend the use of Feliway, a natural anti-anxiety suppliment that works by releasing feel-good pheromones specific to cats.
Don’t make the separation seem like a punishment. Give your pet a puzzle, bone, or another toy that’s safe for them to consume without supervision so they learn to associate alone time with positive feelings. If your best efforts fail, talk to your veterinarian about your options and how you can work together to tackle your pet’s separation anxiety.
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