Managing Your Pet's Separation Anxiety

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit; they love schedules, routines and their owners.

When routines change - school starts, vacations - your pet may have a tough time handling the situation.


Signs of Separation Anxiety

According to MypetcareTV.com and their veterinary expert, Dr. Bernadine Cruz, these are some common signs of separation anxiety.

  • Refusing to eat
  • Excessive barking
  • Chewing up clothing, shoes, toys, or furniture
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constant pacing and whining
  • Attempting to reunite with owners by destroying baseboards, chewing through doors, and breaking windows

What To Do

If your pet shows signs of separation anxiety, try:

  1. Start by saying good-bye

    • Don’t make a big deal out of coming or going.
    • Give your pet a special toy that you can fill with bits of kibble, rice cakes, or peanut butter. Your pet will be so busy getting the goodies out of the toy, it will be a while before your absence is even noticed.
    • When you get home, don’t smother your pet with attention. Go about your normal routine for several minutes before giving your pet lots of attention.
  2. Vary your routine.

    • Collect all of your books or your jacket and car keys, and then put them down. Your pet will think you are going to leave, only to find that you are staying home.
  3. Provide safe surroundings.

    • For dogs - dogs can feel very secure in a crate, but should not be confined for more than 4 to 5 hours. Go here and read about choosing a crate.
    • If you need to be gone longer than 5 hours, have a neighbor or pet sitter let your pet out to stretch its legs. Here's advice on choosing a pet kennel or daycare facility.
    • Make one room in your home a safe haven with a comfy bed, food and water. Be careful to make sure that your pet cannot hurt itself or damage the room. Here's good advice on pet proofing your home.

    Be sure to visit Pets section for information on caring for and traveling with your pet.

    Updated 05/2009