Separation anxiety in pets after lockdown

Covid-19 has changed the work and school lifestyle for many, with more people in their homes over a longer period of time. 

Even just one week at home can affect a pet’s stress levels – it may have brought joy to many pets with constant companionship, but also increased stress on others with no break from the busy household. The common factor between both these types of animals is stress with change, but there are things that can be done to reduce the effect. 

Animals that are enjoying having increased company during the lockdown may display signs of stress when there is an abrupt change and people are back at work and school, leaving them home alone. These pets can show signs of separation anxiety, and destructive behaviours. Pre-emptive management of separation anxiety now can lessen the impact, and destructive tendencies. 

Ways to help reduce the effects of separation anxiety include: 

  • Allocating some time each day where your pet is separate from you, either in their kennel or shut out of your office.
  • Weaning yourself back to working in the office, consider alternating days working from home and working offsite.
  • Increase mental stimulation for your pet, so they do not become bored and dependent on you. We have a great selection of toys at the clinic that can keep them occupied.
  • Synthetic pheromone diffusers/collars help to reduce stress levels, such asAdaptil® for dogs and Feliway® for cats. 
  • Consider specific prescription diets designed to help with stress, such as Royal Canin® Calm. 
  • Consider aThunderShirt. Like swaddling an infant, theThunderShirt’s design applies gentle, constant pressure to calm all types of anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues in dogs. The ThunderShirt helps reduce anxiety relating to fireworks, thunderstorms, separation anxiety, travel, vet visits, problem barking and more. 

If you are concerned your pet is likely to display significant separation anxiety or has done in the past, contact us now. Some cases require prescription medication, but this takes some time to become effective, so early treatment is best.  

Cats that are showing stress during the lockdown, can be seen urinating small amounts often in the litter tray, doing inappropriate urination/spraying in the house, displaying restlessness, and an increase in avoidance behaviour. It is important to check that your cat is passing urine if they are going to the litter tray frequently, as a blocked bladder (normally in male cats) is life threatening. 

Ways to help reduce the stress from people being home during lockdown include: 

  • Ensure your pet has their own space, where they can go and not be interrupted. This is where crate training is invaluable for dogs!
  • Ensure there are sufficient resources (litter trays and food bowls) for the number of pets in the household, and they are in quiet areas.
  • Calming products like Adaptil®, Feliway®, Royal Canin® Calm and ThunderShirts also work in this situation as well. 

Give us a call if you need any help with the products discussed here and our vets can advise on the best diet for your pet.