Regardless of everyone’s personal opinions on the statewide stay-at-home order here in Michigan, there’s one subset of the population that has no problems with it: our pets. Although their routines have been disrupted and some may be getting more attention than they need, pets by and large are thrilled to have their owners around all day.

Whether you’ve had your pet for years or they were adopted during the pandemic, eventually there will come a time when your life will go back to normal (if it hasn’t already) and their life will change.

If your pet has been used to you being around 24/7, you may wind up with a case of pet separation anxiety on your hands. 

Pet Separation Anxiety

Pet separation anxiety generally rears its ugly head in the form of behavior issues while you’re away, including:

  • Digging
  • Scratching at doors or windows
  • Barking, howling, yowling
  • Urinating or defecating inside the house or outside of the litter box
  • Chewing or destroying clothes, shoes, furniture, or other personal items
  • Frantic or clingy behavior once you return home

Pet separation anxiety is more than just annoying – it can severely impact your pet’s health and happiness, not to mention your wallet (replacing carpets, couches, and door frames isn’t cheap). Fortunately, your team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates has some suggestions!

Prepare In Advance

If you’re still staying home, get your pet ready for your eventual return to work by leaving them in a room or behind a stair gate by themselves for a bit to get them used to being alone. Increase the time by a little bit each day, and always return with a treat.

Set The Stage

Once you know you’ll be going back to work soon, begin your “workday routine” to get your pet acclimated. Get ready for work and adjust your pet’s feeding, walks, and playtime schedule accordingly.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Getting plenty of exercise each day is essential in warding off separation anxiety in both dogs and cats. After all, a tired pet is a happy pet! A walk, game of fetch, or playtime with kitty both before and after work will not only burn calories and tire out your pet, but the release of endorphins that follow exercise will reduce stress.

Plenty Of Distractions

Provide your pet with plenty of opportunities for mental and physical enrichment, such as chew toys, food puzzles, interactive games, feather chase, and laser pointer. Set up a bird feeder outside of an easily accessible window for your cat to watch, or try specialty videos or music designed to soothe pets.

Extra Attention

Commit to taking some one-on-one time with your pet each day, and encourage family members to do so as well. Some extra snuggles and bonding time will help a pet feel more attached. If you are regularly gone for long periods of time during the day, consider asking a friend or family member to come by and play with your pet, or hire a dog walker to break up the day.

Additional Resources

Pheromones, such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats, are easy to add to your pet’s surroundings and can go a long way towards reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. For pets with severe anxiety, anti-anxiety medication can be helpful. Your veterinarian will be happy to address that issue with you.

As always, your team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates is here for you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you have about your pet.