September is right around the corner, which means it’s almost time for kids and young adults alike to head back to school. Whether you have young children who will be starting kindergarten this year or you’ll be bringing your son or daughter back to campus in a few weeks, you may be thinking more about gathering supplies than how other (and furrier) members of the family will adjust to these changes. But the truth is that our pets often have trouble when their routine is interrupted, especially when it involves a sudden lack of interaction. Any veterinarian will tell you that separation anxiety is a very real thing for your pets, and if you don’t know how to recognize it, you may end up feeling as frustrated as they do.
Dogs, in particular, are prone to separation anxiety and often exhibit obvious behavioral changes as a result. But cats are also dislike when their regular routines are changed; their reactions are a bit more subtle, but you can still spot them if you’re well-informed. If you notice any of the following signs in your pets, they shouldn’t go ignored. In most cases, you should at least ask your veterinarian for advice or book an appointment at your local veterinary services facility to make sure your pet’s problems are truly behavioral, rather than a medical issue. Some of these symptoms could be attributed to other conditions, so it’s better to seek out your veterinary options just in case.
Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Pets
Your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety if she…
- Has started chewing furniture or ripping up pillows
- Barks or whines for long periods of time
- Has started soiling in the house
- Rips up paper or chews on items you touch often
- Paces, shakes, or drools
- Scratches and digs to excess (sometimes even on her own body, resulting in bald spots)
- Is either extremely lethargic or extremely hyperactive
- Has noticeable changes in her appetite
Your cat may be experiencing separation anxiety if she…
- Starts meowing excessively (especially if she wasn’t already vocal)
- Suddenly stops using the litter box (or has urinated/defecated on your bed or clothing)
- Has increased her self-grooming, often to excess
- Fails to eat while you’re away or eats too quickly
- Follows you everywhere when you’re home and hides when you leave
- Vomits in your absence
What Can You Do To Reduce Your Pet’s Separation Anxiety?
- Ease them into it
You can make the transition a little easier for your pet by working up to it. Leave your pet at home alone for short periods of time to let them get used to the idea. You should also downplay the importance of this; instead of an emotional goodbye, keep it short and sweet. If you don’t make this a big deal, your pet won’t be as likely to pick up on it.
- Give them something to look forward to
Keeping your cat or dog stimulated is key. Catnip-filled toys for cats or treat-hiding toys for dogs can work especially well. You should also provide access to areas of the home in which they feel safe and social; keeping them secluded in one room is not recommended. You can also comfort them by providing items with your scent.
- Establish a new routine
Your veterinarian may recommend that you try to maintain a routine for year-round use. While members of the household will be absent during different times, sticking to a schedule for exercise, play time, and feeding can be helpful. By giving your pet a sense of structure, you’ll minimize the effects of separation.
If you notice significant behavioral changes in your pet — whether you think it’s separation anxiety or something more serious — you should make an appointment at your local animal medical center right away. While it may be nothing serious, your veterinarian will be your best resource for information. By bringing your pet to the veterinary specialty center, you’ll be in a better position to address their needs and make sure that they get the care they need.