Autumn is an exciting time for everyone. For many, there’s so much going on – especially with the school year beginning – that whatever was gained in the relaxation department quickly falls to the wayside. However, increased family stress isn’t the only thing a household pet must contend with, come October. In fact, marked decreases in quality play time, attention, and affection from their humans also takes its toll. The result? Pet separation anxiety.
Family Feast, then Famine…
Many family pets truly relish the summertime fun they have with the kids – who are around more and attending to their summer shenanigans – and the grownups, alike. And then, after a summer full of peanut butter kisses, frozen treats, and lots of pet-friendly outdoor fun, everyone goes back to school and suddenly the days seem rather long and dull.
Loneliness, fear, and boredom can cause a great deal of stress and pet separation anxiety, which will impact your sweet pet’s overall health and wellness.
While you may be tempted to think that your sometimes solitary cat doesn’t feel the change as intensely as your super-involved Schnauzer, don’t be fooled. Cats feel the impact of shifting family dynamics in their home just as acutely as dogs do, they’re just likely to show it differently.
When a pet feels an alarming lack of their family’s presence and constant companionship, the following behaviors can surface:
- Chewing in furniture, woodwork, and anything else they can find
- Soiling inside the home
- Obsessive and repetitive vocalization
- Exhaustively whining
- Clawing at the door you left through
- Destructive behaviors
- Rummaging through the trash bins
The good news is: separation anxiety in pets is not only preventable, but can be proactively avoided altogether.
Helpful Tips For Pet Separation Anxiety
Above all, do not punish or scold your pet for acting out. This can backfire and only serve to reinforce the behaviors you wish to curb.
Instead, try to:
- Incrementally leave your pet for short periods of time. Only increase the time apart when your pet shows you they’re okay.
- Spend a good amount of time with your pet before you leave.
- If appropriate, exercise them to the point where they are ready for a long rest
- Do not get your pet riled up before you leave or the minute you return home; try to make your departures and arrivals a “non-event”.
- Provide interactive toys and leave them with comforting items, like a t-shirt with their favorite person’s scent on it.
- Be sure to play with them, walk them, or otherwise engage them before bed so they use up any extra energy.
If symptoms carry on, it may be time to investigate further. An underlying medical condition can result in pet separation anxiety. More often, enrollment with a doggie daycare facility, or hiring a pet sitter/dog walker, greatly reduces symptoms.
As a last resort, some animals benefit from prescription medication to curb destructive, stressful behaviors. No matter what your pet needs, Stone Ridge of Willis is always here to help. Please give us a call.