Pets may get separation anxiety as you return to in-person work; here's what to look out for

Dog playing outside
Posted at 5:57 AM, Jul 26, 2021

(WXYZ) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world got used to seeing their family more than ever before, and that includes your pets.

As many kids prepare to go back to the classroom and parents return to the office, where does that leave our four-legged friends?

Experts say pets are already experiencing separation anxiety at record numbers after remote school and work allowed pets to depend on their owners more than ever before.

Here are some quick signs to look for if you're worried.

- Pay attention if you find your dog pacing or trying to run away
- Unusual barking or howling is a telltale sign something is not right
- Taking up chewing, digging or destruction
- If your pet is having accidents when they go to the bathroom

Kate Colleran said her dog Shia became accustomed to having them at home while they worked remotely.

"When we went back to work, he had a ton of separation issues. The crying was so heartbreaking. He would destroy his crate, rip apart beds, blankets, everything. We actually ended up going to the vet and getting him medicated for anxiety," she said.

Separation anxiety is something Dr. Marie Hopfensperger, a veterinary behaviorist, says even before the pandemic, she advised teachers on summer break and people on extended staycations about it.

For those returning to the office or traveling again, she suggests getting your dog used to missing you before you make the full leap.

"Maybe take yourself out for a cup of coffee at the time of day you would eventually start, eventually, be headed out of the house to go to work for the day. Could you just run a short errand?" Hopfensperger said.

Come back and take note of your dog's behavior. She said you can also invest in a webcam.

"I do think spying on our pets is a wonderful tool to really get a sense of how they're coping when we're away," Hopfensperger added.

Another way is to use doggie daycares.

"Now we are experiencing a very big influx of business because the dogs are coming to us because people are getting brave and wanting to travel," Connor Viane, the manager at Camp Bow Wow in Troy, said.

One other takeaway from experts is the time it takes for dogs to get acclimated to separation can vary.

Dr. Hopfenspeger says she worked with Petco to come upwith this informationon post-pandemic pet preparedness. Click here.

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