Canine separation anxiety

Preventing Separation Anxiety: How to prepare your pet for time alone after your COVID-19 Quarantine

Your pets have enjoyed spending extra time with you during the COVID-19 lockdown. As restrictions are lifting and you’re heading back to work, remember that your dog or cat may not understand the sudden change in routine. It’s important to take some time to help your pet make the transition back to “normal” life. This new normal may include spending more time at home alone, confined to a kennel, or visiting a boarding/daycare facility.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Check out our recommendations for making your pet’s transition out of the COVID-19 lockdown as gentle as possible:

  • Make changes slowly: Leave your dog alone in a room or kennel for only a few minutes at a time. Gradually increase this time every day, allowing changes to take place over several weeks if possible.
  • Newly adopted pets: Many puppies, kittens, or even newly adopted adult fur babies don’t have much experience being left alone. It’s particularly important to make special accommodations and plan short-training intervals to help ease their transition. Boarding kennels or day care facilities may help make their time away from you less stressful.
  • Fresh air and exercise: Make sure your dog is allowed plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. A tired and satisfied dog is less likely to experience separation anxiety
  • Indoor cats: Just like dogs, cats may require time to adjust to your increased absence. If your cat is very social or shows signs of stress when her routine changes, make the transition as slowly as possible. Allow plenty of time each day for exercise, mental stimulation, and interaction with her favorite person (you!).
  • Keep them calm: Reducing your pet’s stress response can help them adjust to future changes in routine. There are many over-the-counter supplements and pheromone products that are designed to decrease your dog or cat’s stress and anxiety. These include Feliway (for cats), Adaptil (for dogs), Zylkene, and Anxitane. For best results, these products should be started at least several days or weeks before your pet’s routine is changed.

Signs of separation anxiety in pets can vary widely. Below are some of the things to look out for:

Signs of separation anxiety in dogs:

  • Barking, howling, or whining for more than 30 seconds when left alone
  • Scratching or chewing on household items
  • Destructive behavior that occurs only when the dog is home alone
  • Over-grooming (excessively licking themselves) or other types of self-destructive behavior
  • Becoming overly needy or clingy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Signs of separation anxiety in cats:

  • Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box
  • Loud or increased vocalization
  • Over-grooming (excessively licking themselves) or other types of self-destructive behavior
  • Becoming overly needy or clingy
  • Increased hiding
  • Changes in appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

If you’re concerned that your pet may suffer from separation anxiety, consider consulting a veterinary behaviorist for advice.

Still worried?

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This article was written by a FirstVet vet

Did you know that FirstVet offers video calls with experienced vets? You can get a consultation within 30 minutes by downloading the FirstVet app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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