If you have been in social isolation for the past few weeks with your pet, adjusting to going back to work or school can be tough. Dogs and cats rely on consistency and routine to feel safe and protected, and if there is an abrupt change in their schedule, it can cause some fear and stress, and in some pets, separation anxiety

The good news is that you can avoid serious anxiety and fear by easing your pet into the new routine. Life with your pet after COVID-19 can be an adjustment, but they will be better prepared for the new solo time with some important steps you can take.

What Is Separation Anxiety in Dogs and Cats

Separation anxiety is simply an aversion to being alone. This can occur in humans as well as in our animal friends. Dogs are more susceptible to this condition, but cats have also been noted to have symptoms of stress when an owner leaves.

These symptoms of separation anxiety include:

  • Chewing, digging, and destructive behavior
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Territorial spraying
  • Shaking, trembling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Clingingness
  • Excessive barking
  • Trying to get out of the home
  • Hiding

Dogs and cats who have not been socialized and are generally clinging are more likely to have separation anxiety, as well as those who have experienced some form of trauma.

Steps You Can Take to Ease Anxiety

In order to avoid separation anxiety after the Stay at Home orders of the pandemic, the Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital have a few simple suggestions.

  1. Start early. If you anticipate going back to work or school within the next month, begin acclimating your pet to being alone now. Go out and run errands or take a day trip and leave them at home for a few hours at a time. Increase the duration of your away time so your pet eases into being alone more than usual.
  2. Stick with a routine. If you leave at 8am, for example, feed your pet right before you leave. Exercise and feed, as well as play, with your four-legged friend at the same time each day to instill a sense of routine.
  3. Give your pet things to do. No one likes the idea of staying at home without something to do. Try offering new toys, chewables like flavored Nylabones, and other enrichment objects like challenging puzzles or a window view of the bird feeder. These distractions can make their time alone more enjoyable.
  4. Have them examined. Pets with anxiety can be in stress much of the time, which taxes the immune system and decreases their quality of life. The Pet Experts can rule out any underlying medical issues and offer recommendations on anti anxiety medications, calming treats, stress reducing sprays, and behavior modification.

When you come home from a long day, appear as though nothing is wrong and downplay the intense enthusiasm from your pet. This increases their understanding that your being away is normal. Spend time with your furry friend in the evening, making sure they are getting plenty of love, exercise, and cuddles.

Helping Your Pet After COVID-19

If you would like to ask us additional questions on easing the transition, please contact The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital. We can offer numerous supports in achieving a better and more relaxed quality of life for your best friend. Change is hard for anyone, but your pet can rest assured that along with their loving owner, their veterinary partners are here to help!