Going back to school isn’t just hard on the kids; it’s hard on your pets, too! All summer long they have their best friends home to play with them, and then when school rolls around again, all that changes. Pets don’t always understand that when their family goes away, they’ll come back. Cats and dogs live in the moment, and when the whole family takes off for work and school, many of them can suffer from separation anxiety.
What Does Pet Separation Anxiety Look Like?
Different pets will respond to their anxiety differently. Some signs of separation anxiety include:
- Destructive behavior
- Barking and howling when left alone
- Attempts at escape
- Urination and/or defecation in the home
- Pacing (back and forth or in a circular pattern)
All of these behaviors could be caused by a variety of other factors, so it can be difficult to pinpoint it as separation anxiety. The key is to recognize that they perform these behaviors only when they are left home alone.
How to Soothe the Blues
Pets are creatures of habit and an abrupt change from summer fun to a lonely school year are enough to trigger separation anxiety. However, you can help your dog or cat adjust to this coming change in several ways including:
- Create distractions from your departure with toys and treats. A Kong filled with food or peanut butter, or a special toy that only get taken out when you’re about to leave can help turn the sad event of your leaving into a more positive one.
- Start taking your dog’s walks earlier in the morning before you have to leave for work or school and later in the evenings to simulate what a school week will be like.
- Add additional play sessions before you leave to start your pet’s day off with an engaging activity.
- Do not punish anxious behavior—it will only make things worse!
- Try not to make your departure and arrival back home a big deal. If your pet is excited to see you when you come home, do not indulge them until they have calmed down.
- If your pet has a hard time adjusting, even with all your efforts, please talk to your veterinarian about possibly anti-anxiety medications to help them remain calm.
Interested in more tips for relieving pet separation anxiety? Contact our animal hospital today at (412) 882-3070!