Help Your Pet with Separation Anxiety

Does back-to-school season give your pet the blues? This isn’t uncommon, especially among dogs. It’s natural for our pets to miss our company, but separation anxiety can take a serious toll on your pet’s physical and emotional well-being, and cause stress for you and your family. At Colony Animal Hospital, we’re happy to offer advice to help your four-legged family members enjoy a more peaceful existence at home, alone or not. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for suggestions—it’s why we’re here!

Signs of Anxiety in Pets

Pet separation anxiety can range from minor to severe. Are you noticing any changes in your pet’s appearance or behavior? Here are some things to watch for:

  • Eating less or not eating at all
  • Acting clingy
  • Having accidents in the house
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Whining, howling, and/or barking the moment you walk out the door
  • Destruction of the furniture
Pet Separation Anxiety in Newport News: A Pug Lays Down on the Rug

Tips to Reduce Pet Separation Anxiety

Talk to your veterinarian to discuss what sort of changes you should try at home to alleviate your pet’s anxiety. This might include:

  • Leaving the TV and/or radio on so your pet has background noise or visual stimulation to keep them distracted. You may even want to consider getting DogTV, which offers programming especially designed to help dogs relax.
  • Getting your pet accustomed to your departures. This takes practice and patience, and mainly involves teaching your pet that your leaving is nothing to get excited about. You can do this by putting on your shoes, gathering your keys, and walking out the door without making a fuss for a couple of seconds, then returning. Over time, you can increase the amount of time you spend outside until your pet becomes comfortable with being left alone for several hours. Consult with us so we can provide resources to help you in this process.
  • If daycare fits into your budget, give it a try! Dogs benefit from the socialization and activity that daycare offers, and when your pet comes home, they’ll be tired, happy, and much more relaxed.
  • Spending more time with your pet outside of school/work.
  • Hiding treats or giving your pet food puzzles to solve. Little games like these will occupy your pet’s attention and help them associate being on their own with more positive things.
  • Walking and/or playing with your pet when you get home. This will help them burn energy, and gives them quality time with you and your family.
  • Staying calm when you walk in the door so your pet doesn’t get too excited. Wait for them to calm down, then greet them warmly. This ties in with making your departures seem less momentous to your pet to help them stay calm.