Pet anxiety can cause your dog to chew on shoesIt’s easy to assume that when we leave the house, our pets simply sleep, groom, eat, and wander around. In other words, they carry on with their day-to-day lives as though we were right there with them, right? Well, some pets have a hard time making the leap from being fine with their owners to being just as fine without them. With the back to school season looming, pet anxiety or can really come at you from left field.

Know the Signs

While every pet is unique, there are certain warning signs that precede the diagnosis of pet anxiety:

  • Urinating and/or defecating inside the house (sometimes followed by coprophagia, or eating their own waste)
  • Escape attempts
  • Clawing  at or chewing on woodwork
  • Constant vocalization
  • Digging
  • Destruction
  • Endless pacing by the door

What’s Going On?

If your pet has become accustomed to daily summer activities with you and the kids, they may become confused and afraid when the academic year starts up this fall. Animals are extremely sensitive and highly impacted by even slight changes.

The best thing you can do to keep pet anxiety at bay is uphold the routine they deeply depend on. Meal times, bathroom breaks, and opportunities to exercise are absolute must-dos to manage fear, stress, and anxiety.

Upside Down

There are strategies you can put into place prior to the new schedule shift. For starters, you may want to start leaving in the morning to get your pet accustomed to the idea. You don’t have to stay away the entire day at first. Start with 30 minutes at a time, then slowly increase the time apart until your new schedule is in full force.

  • Try to make your departure and arrival back at home as uneventful as possible. Remember, your pet picks up your cues and if you make too big of deal out of leaving, they’ll react in kind.
  • Make sure your pet has a variety of interactive toys to keep them busy during the day. Kongs and puzzle toys that release treats are excellent distractions and often cause a pet to tucker themselves out.
  • Provide ample exercise opportunities before you leave in the morning and in the afternoon/evening when you return.
  • Never scold or punish your pet for their sensitivities to change and separation from the people they love.
  • If you aren’t able to stick to their routine, hire a dog walker or pet sitter to visit your pet during your time away. This helps distract them and makes them feel that their needs remain a priority.

When You Need More

Pet anxiety is commonly triggered by separation from their favorite person or group of people. When an animal has a supportive structure, however, the time apart can become tolerable.

We offer daycare for pets that need a little extra involvement and attention during the day. Our immaculate 1600 square foot fenced in play yard is a perfect antidote to pet anxiety. Encouraged to romp around and play with other animals in our care, your pet will be given consistent outlets for their energy anytime between 7am and 6pm Monday through Friday.

Pet Anxiety Can Be Reversed

Sometimes, pet anxiety requires medication, but most often the symptoms disappear over time.

If you need additional support, please reach out to our doctors and staff at Dickinson Animal Hospital & Pet Wellness Center.