With offices in some areas resuming business as usual, our days working on the couch with our pets at our feet can be numbered. But while you might be willing to swap elastic waist pants for real clothes and Zoom for a boardroom, your pet probably has a different opinion. Big changes in routine can upset even the most stoic of puppies. (And yes, maybe even a cat.)
The transition can be even more difficult if your furry baby is one of the many lucky animals adopted during the pandemic. After all, they might not know of any life that doesn’t involve 24/7 companionship. To reduce their stress levels (and yours), we asked the experts to share the best way to help our pets cope with being distraught for long periods of time.
First of all: what is separation anxiety in a pet? “Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is very attached to its caretaker and therefore experiences high anxiety and stress when left alone,” says Dr. Gary Richter, veterinarian and founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition. “Moreover, they are unable to find comfort on their own. ”
Why this happens to some dogs more than others is still unclear. “Behavior is a complicated interplay between genetics, early life experiences and learning,” says Dr M. Leanne Lilly, veterinary behavior specialist for Dutch. “We know it is strongly associated with noise fears. If a scary noise occurs when you are home alone, fear of noise may be associated with being alone.
Dogs that have been rescued or purchased from pet stores are more prone to it than those purchased directly from a professional breeder, she adds.
This anxiety can manifest in different ways that can vary from dog to dog, Richter explains. He does, however, point out these common signs to watch out for:
- Urinate and defecate in the house
- Excessive barking and yelling
- Chewing, digging and other destructive behaviors
The first step should always be to speak with your vet, urges Richter. This is the best way to tell if anxiety is becoming a more serious problem for your dog, and to get help identifying possible triggers. “Your vet can also rule out any possible medical conditions that could be causing your dog’s symptoms,” he adds.
If you’re still a few weeks away from your return to work date, use that time to ease your dog into the new routine, Richter says. He advises to leave the house every day, gradually increasing the time out.
Separation anxiety can get worse if you seem upset about the situation, so minimize your departure. “That means not spending too much time saying goodbye before you go,” says Dr. Karin Sullivan, medical director of the Arizona Animal Welfare League. “Also, give your dog time to acclimatize after you return. ”
And whatever you do, never scold a pet for something they did while you were at work. “It will make the anxiety worse, which will only increase the behavior you are trying to stop,” Lilly insists.
Contrary to popular belief, our feline friends also hate to see us go. “Cats absolutely miss themselves just like dogs,” insists Dr. Christine Sellers, Cat Person’s veterinary advisor. “Dogs are beasts of burden and depend on each other for their survival,” she explains. “Cats hunt independently but always seek out other cats for companionship in a colony setting. Cats crave attention and love from us. It’s just that they’re not like dogs, constantly needing the approval of their “pack members.”
Vendors have seen all of these signs appear in cats with separation anxiety:
- Aggression, especially shortly before your usual departure time
- Pissing on shoes, bags, jackets, or whatever else you take to work – this is meant to let others know that you are ‘caught’
- Urinate under windows, near exterior doors, on the couch, by the fireplace, or on your bed – your cat thinks this protects the house from intruders while you are away
The sellers have advice, which is a little different from the best practices for dogs. Before you leave, arrange the clothes you sleep in or wear often so your cat can take a nap. If you usually listen to music at home, leave the same type of music on when you go to work. “Then always say hello to your cat when you get home before you do anything else,” Sellers emphasizes. And finally, no, your cat doesn’t need a “friend” to keep him company. Many cat parents believe that bringing home a second cat will end the loneliness, but “it will only increase the stress in the environment,” warns Sellers.
With all of these great tips in mind, here’s a look at some smart shopping that can make this risky step easier for both of you. The goal is to keep your pet “comfortable to eat, drink and rest on their own at home,” Lilly notes.
Through a dog’s ear
Sullivan loves this three-CD set of classical music with an acoustic twist that makes it especially appealing to dogs. “It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety,” she says.
A basic home video camera like this can give you peace of mind during your first few weeks back to work. “You will know exactly what your pet is doing and if signs of stress are seen you can monitor the response to treatment,” Lilly explains.
This smart toy looks basic, but don’t be fooled by its minimalist design. It holds up to 1.5 cups of dry dog food so your dog can snack while enjoying an interactive activity. Mental and physical stimulation to overcome boredom! “Food toys are great for occupying animals in a positive way,” says Lilly. She reminds us, however, to keep overall food intake in mind, as an extra “meal” five days a week can make you fat quickly. It also emphasizes the importance of having your pet play with him under your watchful eye before leaving him alone with him.
Ergonomically designed, this elevated and strategically shaped bowl places your cat in a natural eating position and prevents their whiskers from fussing. Neatniks will love the long tray that catches stray pieces and the fact that it comes apart for dishwasher safe.
Sullivan is a fan of this special jacket, which takes its name from the terror experienced by pets during thunderstorms. This patented design applies gentle, constant pressure to calm nervous puppies. The fabric will remain comfortable although it is soft and machine washable. This also applies to the kitty version.
Tuft and leg
Cat tree slingshot
Sellers say vertical perching areas for your cat, like cat trees, shelving, and window hammocks, are essential to their climbing instincts. “Being at heights allows them to monitor their surroundings and feel more secure,” she says. This modern take on a cat tree has height adjustable perches. The central pillar is wrapped in sisal, so it also serves as a scratching post.
Chewing elk antler
“Give the dogs something to chew on so they have something to take care of,” advises Richter. This cruelty-free “split” wood is sourced from North America and has a softer density than you might imagine. It is perfect for small dogs and the elderly. If you have a large dog or a big chewer, try the Deer Antler Chew.
Best Friends by Sheri Original Calming Donut
Do they make one our size ?! Cuddly dogs and cats will have sweet dreams in this plush hug. The rim gives a feeling of security, as well as head and neck support. The soft, long-haired fur is similar to the fur of a mother bitch. When they cannot be by your side, it will be their happiness.
Leaps & Bounds Playful by Nature Cat Toys
Entertain your cat with… cute toys! Just do it strategically. “Bring one before you go to work, but don’t leave it on all the time. Rotate the toy weekly, ”suggest the sellers. This six-pack is easy on the budget, perfect for giving away for a month and a half.
Classic Kong dog toy
Many fans of this versatile natural rubber toy know that it stands up to loud chewing and playing woofers. Sullivan suggests filling one with a mixture of peanut butter and dog food, then freezing it overnight for a chewy, long-lasting stress reliever.
Cactus silk dog bed
Talk about a pampered dog. Your little sweetheart will be nicely seated on this exquisite and cozy relaxation spot. It is handmade from Saharan Aloe Vera Cactus silk by women in Marrakech. The fabric is soft, durable, cool in summer and warm in winter.
Petsafe food hunt
A fun solution for a dog who gobbles up all of their food too quickly, this hybrid feeder will have them moving while you are away. He wanders on the ground, dropping pieces sporadically. Your puppy should follow along to get the next snack.
Petlibro automatic cat feeder
Vendors suggest setting up a timed feeder to release a treat every two to three hours while you’re away. This highly valued companion makes sure that kitten feels taken care of while you are away. It is waterproof and has a locking mechanism, dispensing up to six snacks per day.
Frisco Road Trip Puzzle Dog Toy
Sullivan considers puzzle type toys a godsend for a bored puppy home alone. We think an adorable suitcase stuffed with crumpled, squeaky clothes does the trick. Your dog will have fun pulling every piece of his vacation “wardrobe” out of the hole. It’s big enough to be frustration-free but small enough to be a bit of a challenge.
Petmaker Cozy Cave
Vendors point out that cats are attracted to anything that looks like a cave. “He should be the size of the cat, and not taller,” she said. “They crave the safety of a small area. Knowing this, it’s easy to see how any feline would happily curl up in this comfortable and sturdy hangout. The pillow inside is removable, with a plush side and a smooth side.