cat looking out window

After weeks and months of staying in the home and social distancing, many cities are loosening restrictions as people are returning to work and school. Returning to work and other daily life resumes for most, yet our pets may have gotten used to our presence!

Anxiety after COVID-19 has been a problem for pets who are dealing with transitional anxieties. The team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital wants to help you avoid separation anxiety by helping pets cope with being alone. Let’s take a closer look!

Anxiety and Separation Stress in Pets

Separation anxiety is characterized by an intense dislike of being alone. This condition occurs in both cats and dogs, but canines are more commonly diagnosed. There are many reasons why a pet is prone to separation anxiety, including genetics, past trauma, and quality of socialization. 

What we are seeing now, however, is an uptick of diagnoses due to the abrupt departure from spending most of the time with our pets. Going from 24/7 companionship to a good 8 or more hours alone is a big change for them, which can result in anxiety and stress.

Certain signs may emerge when a pet has separation anxiety, such as:

  • Destructive behavior like chewing, digging, etc.
  • Hiding
  • Trembling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Yowling or barking
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Attempts to get out

If your pet is exhibiting these symptoms, please contact us. Some of these can be attributed to a medical condition, so we can get to the cause of the problem and provide treatment.

Tips for Helping Pets Cope with Being Alone

There are several ways you can ease the impact of the new work and school schedule. Your pet will benefit from making the change a gradual one, as well as one that is consistent and reward driven.

  • Start slowly by leaving your pet for longer periods of time. This slow transition to dealing with an 8-hour day with you at work, can build up your pet’s confidence in being alone.
  • Provide plenty of toys, puzzles, chews like a Kong or Nylabone, and other fun activities so your pet will stay active and engaged.
  • Play with your pet before you leave, such as a long walk or game of fetch. A tired pet is less likely to be anxious and act out in destructive ways.
  • Reward your pet right before you leave the house, such as providing their morning meal or using a Kong toy filled with mashed banana or peanut butter.
  • Give your static cling kitty a big window view of a bird feeder. Your dog companion will enjoy looking outdoors at birds and squirrels, too.
  • Have someone come by and walk your dog or play with your pet. Hire a dog walker, pet sitter, or ask a loved one to check in with your furry friend. Ensure that you follow safe CDC guidelines to prevent exposure to COVID-19.
  • Downplay the stress and overexcitement when you leave and return. This could exacerbate your pet’s negative association with being left behind.

If you would like additional suggestions for how to help your pet cope with being alone, please call us. In more serious cases of separation anxiety, certain medications, calming treats, and pheromone sprays can really help. We are here for you and your bestie.