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  • Writer's pictureKaaya Sharma

How to steer clear of your pet getting separation anxiety after quarantine

The COVID-19 pandemic left the majority of us stuck at home enduring quarantine. Although inconvenient for us, our furry friends most definitely didn't feel the same way, and the majority probably enjoyed the company. With things starting to reopen, it's important to begin preparing your pets for when life returns to normal in order to avoid separation anxiety.


What does separation anxiety in animals look like?

Companion animals, particularly dogs, are social beings and thrive off the company from their owners, as well as consistency in their daily routines. Especially when they have become accustomed to a new routine where they have constant company, it becomes harder for them to let go when the time arrives for necessary separations. Separation anxiety can have a huge emotional toll on your pet, causing them to become stressed when they are left alone in the house, and causing them to act accordingly. This includes exhibiting anxious behaviors, an excessive amount of barking when alone at home, partaking in destructive acts as a result of stress, and their attempts to escape out of confinement.

Some animals are more prone to separation anxiety than others, but most have noted that the number one cause involves major life changes. Therefore, it is an important factor to take into account after quarantine, because your pet will go from having you around all day, to only portions of the day, which can be extremely stressful and emotionally depleting for them.


How can you prevent it from happening?

The good news is, there are preventative actions you can partake in to reduce the likelihood of your pet getting separation anxiety.

  1. Promote comfort at times of the day when you would typically leave the house. Your pets have a good sense of time and are aware when certain things are meant to happen. Do things that comfort them at times when you won't be there in the future, like giving them a treat, playing soft music, and/or buying them a new toy to keep them engaged. They will remember these acts when you do eventually leave, helping them with their anxiety.

  2. Create a safe place in the house where they can reside alone for a little bit. Whether a room, crate, or place on the couch, create an isolated place in the house where your pet is comfortable, and keep them alone for some time. This will ease them into the idea of staying alone for longer periods of time when you have to leave.

  3. Engage in typical departure cues even when you are just in the house. This can include getting keys when you're simply going to another room in the house, putting your shoes on while cooking in the kitchen, and wearing a backpack or handbag when you're working on your computer or reading a book. This desensitizes your pet from the signals that you are leaving the house, making it less likely for them to get anxious when you leave.

When should you contact your veterinarian?

If the preventative measures above don't work, and you begin to see symptoms of separation anxiety in your pet, including excessive panting, shaking, the destruction of property, and engaging in acts that could potentially harm them, contact your veterinarian. Oftentimes, they can provide you with supplements, medication, or therapy to help calm your pet and reduce stress. They can also assist in coming up with a treatment plan that works for your animal, and is personalized to fit their needs.

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