What is Pet Separation Anxiety?
Pet separation anxiety is similar to a panic attack in humans. Some pets, when left alone, become fearful and anxious, thinking that they’ve been abandoned. Unfortunately, pets don’t always understand that we’ll always come home, so their anxiety gets the better of them and they show signs of destructive behavior and attempts of escape. It’s important to remember that pets are not trying to be vengeful toward you for leaving them alone — they are simply scared. To help your pet through this condition, you need only be patient, loving, and work on counter-conditioning training to change their behavior. Our animal hospital has come up with several tips to help get you started.
Tips for Managing Pet Separation Anxiety
- Give your pet a special toy or food puzzle filled with their favorite treat that they only get when they are left alone. This should help them create a positive association with being alone, and it also helps distract them from your departure!
- Leave the radio turned on to a classical music channel or turn the TV to a nature channel so your pet has something to listen to/watch when they’re alone.
- Exercise your pet before you leave. A tired pet is much less likely to have the energy to be upset about your leaving!
- Don’t make a big fuss over your pet before you leave or when you come home. Doing so only reinforces their feelings of anxiety about your departure. Instead, give a simple farewell (or none at all!) and when you arrive home, don’t give your pet any attention until they have calmed down. Trust us, you won’t hurt their feelings!
- Make sure to spend some extra time with your pet in the evenings, or have your kids play with them after school. This gives your pet something to look forward, to every day!
If your pet’s anxiety is more severe and they do not respond to the above tips, please talk to your veterinarian! They can recommend prescription anti-anxiety medications as well as give advice on counter-conditioning to reduce your pet’s anxiety. Contact us today at (510) 339-2041 to make an appointment.