Dr. Susan Wylegala says one the big problems that we are seeing, especially in the number of these puppies and dogs that have been acquired during the COVID pandemic is separation anxiety. Now that many people are returning to work and many children are returning to school, these animals are now being left alone at home for the first time ever and for many of them it’s creating significant anxiety and problems. Dr. Wylegala says separation anxiety is one of the more common problems they see in pets and we are seeing it in significantly more frequency lately. First of all, she says, talk to your veterinarian; there are combination of things that can be done help pets that have separation anxiety.
Dr. Wylegala says typical symptoms of pet anxiety are:
1. Urinating and defecating in the house when they are normally well trained.
2. Destructive patterns so destroying things when you’re not there,
3. Barking incessantly when you’re not home
4. Not eating at all unless someone is there
5. And potentially destruction to the point where we will see pets that will hurt themselves trying to get out of the crate, breaking through a door, jumping through windows.
Dr. Wylegala says step one is to actually manage the issue and that may be if possible, to take them to work, have a neighbor watch them, take them to doggy daycare so they’re not left alone.
There are several behavior techniques that can be utilized to get your pet accustomed to being left alone. Dr. Wylegala says this is not a process that occurs in a day or a week. It takes time to do some of these behavioral modifications for your pet. So, utilizing services such as daycares, bringing your pet to work or having someone watch them may be the best option for you.
There are also medicines that can be helpful to decrease the anxiety and stress that your pet feels. Dr. Wylegala says these aren’t a miracle drug. It doesn’t mean if you have a pet who suffers anxiety all you have to do is put them on a drug; that’s not the case. They are simply a tool to help your pet be easier to train and to accept being alone a little bit easier than they would otherwise.
Talk to your veterinarian about options that they recommend for you both behaviorally and medically. Look for an immediate solution or give yourself some time with doggy daycare, bringing them to work, having someone watch your pet, at least for a few hours a day and consider medical management along with behavioral modification.
For more information go to nfveterinarysociety.org