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Anticipating separation anxiety in our pets

Posted at 10:43 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 07:12:04-04

JENISON, Mich. — Most pets are getting more time with their human family than ever before during this pandemic. But when things eventually get back to normal with the kids away at school and the adults working away from home, some of our pets will experience separation anxiety.

Fox 17 spoke with Dr. Ryan Carpenter of Family Friends Veterinary Hospital Wednesday about this topic.

"Yes, I think there’s going to be a lot (of separation anxiety). And especially the people that just got puppies and even kittens, their routine is starting off very different than maybe someone who was working 40 hours a week," he told Fox 17.

Dr. Carpenter adds that separation anxiety is mostly associated with dogs. "Pets may display several different types of anxiety in a variety of manners. We may see some urination in the house, defecation in the house, panting, we may see some scratching, licking, doing various behaviors they've never done before," he adds.

Dr. Carpenter says there are things to do in advance of returning to your old normal that will help transition your pet.

"A week before we anticipate our routine changing, try to get in a normal routine that you might have. If you're feeding extra snacks or an extra meal, try to go back to the normal routine," he told Fox 17.

Dr. Carpenter says if you've crate-trained your dog in the past, keeping them confined to that area can also be helpful during the transition, so he suggests getting them used to that again as well.

Once the house is quiet and the pets are alone, there are things to do to help as well. Dr. Carpenter says giving frozen toys or other activities that will keep them mentally stimulated will help. He also advises playing music or leaving the television on for them so they think someone is home.

He also advises playing music or leaving the television on for them so they think someone is home. And he adds, "It's important to make sure that when we are home and available, that we are getting our pets appropriate exercise and activity and mental stimulation." Dr. Anderson adds that some pets may need a medication prescription, either a sedative or a behavioral modifying medication, but he called that a "last resort."