Have you ever come home to find an “accident” left from your pet cat or hear a complaint from your neighbor about too much barking? If so, your furry friend may be suffering from separation anxiety. When left alone dogs or cats may become panicked and destructive and it can strike at any age. Pets can be hyper-attached to one or more owners according to our vets. Changes in a pet parent’s work schedule or a move to a new home can make a pet feel stressed. They may act out by scratching on doors or chewing on your favorite pairs of shoes or the family couch.
According to a recent study, 20% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. That’s over 16 million dogs in the US alone! Here are some helpful ideas to put into practice to help your pets feel less abandoned:
Practice makes Perfect!
Building it up from a few seconds at a time to long stretches, leave your pet alone for a long as he can tolerate it and then come back into the room. Continue to increase the length of your absence while making sure your pet remains calm. Practice this with them 5 days a week for a total of 20 minutes a day.
While your pet is relaxing in his favorite room or on her favorite blanket, leave a food dispensing toy filled with treats. Kong Wobbler, found at All for the Pet, is a great choice. Each time you head out the door leave them the feeder to keep them occupied and to teach them that “good things happen” when momma leaves.
Crating may further exacerbate the situation and could also lead to confinement anxiety (fear of being in an enclosed environment). No Bueno! Choose to use a baby gate and keep Fido in a single area instead. Other dogs find comfort in the crate and that’s a perfectly fine option.
Meds can help!
If practicing short absences doesn’t provide your pup any relief, you may consider having an anti-anxiety medication prescribed. Although most pet owners use this solution as a last resort, you could, instead, provide your pet with some relief earlier in the process of practicing your short absences to help ease him into it.
Keeping an eye on your pet while you’re gone will help you determine what’s really happening.
Signs of separation anxiety include:
*Attempts at escaping * Panting * Pacing *Excessive grooming (cats) *Long periods of barking or meowing *Drooling
So, be patient with your pet. Together you can work through it by taking small steps each day. Just remember, he misses you!