Managing Your Pet's Separation Anxiety
Dogs and cats are creatures of habit; they love schedules, routines and their owners. When routines change — school starts, you're away on vacation — your pet may have a tough time handling the situation.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
According to MyPetCARETV.com and its veterinary expert, Dr. Bernadine Cruz, these are some common signs of separation anxiety in dogs
Refusing to eat
Excessive barking or meowing
Chewing up clothing, shoes, toys, or furniture
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Constant pacing and whining
Attempting to reunite with owners by destroying baseboards, chewing through doors, and breaking windows
According to PetEducation.com, cats may also demonstrate the following:
Becoming too anxious to eat when left alone
Vomiting only when the owner is not there
Excessive grooming, to the point of creating a bald spot on one or two areas of the body.
What To Do
If your pet shows signs of separation anxiety, try these strategies:
Take "No Big Deal" Approach. Say good-bye calmly and don't make a big deal out of coming or going. When you return, go about your normal routine for several minutes before giving your pet lots of attention.
Keep Them Busy. Give your pet a special toy that you can fill with bits of kibble, rice cakes, or peanut butter. Your pet will be so busy getting the goodies out of the toy, it will be a while before your absence is even noticed.
Provide "On Your Own" Toys. Have special items the pet likes that you only bring out when you're leaving and are put away once you return.
Offer Entertainment. Leave the television or radio on. For cats, offer them plenty of climbing options, preferably near a window so they can see out.
Vary Your Routine. Collect all of your books or your jacket and car keys, and then put them down. Your pet will think you are going to leave, only to find that you are staying home.
Give Them Their Own Space. Make one room in your home a safe haven with a comfy bed, food and water. Be careful to make sure that your pet cannot hurt itself or damage the room. Here's good advice on pet-proofing your home.
WHN Tip: Dogs can feel very secure in a crate, but should not be confined for more than 4 to 5 hours. If you'll be gone longer, have a neighbor or pet sitter let your pet out to stretch its legs or consider using a kennel or daycare facility.
Read our article about Choosing and Using a Pet Crate for Travel
Here's advice on Choosing a Kennel or Pet Daycare Facility
Be sure to visit our Pets section for information on caring for and traveling with your pet.
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