September has arrived. The weather is cooler, the days are shorter, and summer holidays have come to an end. While the end of the summer holiday period is often not the happiest time for many of us, it can unfortunately also bring misery upon our pets.
After a hopefully idyllic summer with all the family close at hand, this time of year can see us having to leave our pets alone for longer during the day and busy schedules and changing weather can make us less inclined to spend the outdoor time with them that they need and deserve. Consequently, separation anxiety could become a real problem for your pet.
Research has shown that up to 30% of dogs1 show obvious signs of anxiety when home alone and many more could be affected, but with the signs not being recognised by owners. Cats can also suffer from separation anxiety with destructiveness, litter tray accidents, excessive vocalisation, or psychogenic grooming and self mutiliation2 being the most common signs.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to help your dog or cat cope when home alone.
- Take your dog for a walk before you leave the house
Start your day by taking your dog for a brisk walk, then reward your dog’s calm-submissive energy with food and water. The idea is to leave your dog in quiet, resting mode while you are away.
- No touch, no talk, no eye contact and say goodbye long before you leave!
Don’t make a big deal when you leave for the day or when you return. This way you are reassuring your dog or cat that the time apart is no big deal. If you simply must say goodbye, the time to share affection and tell your pet that you will miss him or her is way before you actually leave and when the time comes to leave you can do so quietly and with no fuss.
- Start out small by leaving your pet alone for just five minutes.
If you can, transition back into work mode with your pet over a week or two. Starting by leaving your dog or cat alone for five minutes, then extend the time to twenty minutes, then an hour. Continue to increase the time you spend away until you can leave for a full eight hours without any more dog or cat problems!
- Leave your pet with a good audiobook or pet friendly entertainment.
Studies have shown that audiobooks and the sound of a human voice can have a calming effect on your pet and help to lessen their separation anxiety. Alternatively, if you’re willing to leave the television on there are plenty of pet-friendly programs now available which can help keep your dog or cat while the hours away.
- Provide a wide variety of toys
Leave your pet with comfortable and familiar places to rest and relax and plenty of their favourite toys with which to entertain themselves.
- Natural remedies to lessen anxiety.
If your pet needs some extra support to help cope with the stresses of being home alone, HomeoPet’s Anxiety Relief provides natural relief from fear or anxiety related to separation, kenneling, vet/grooming visits and other stressful situations. Anxiety Relief can be used on all types of animals and is safe for puppies, kittens, pregnant and nursing animals.
If you have any questions on separation anxiety, or any other challenge you may be facing with your pet and how the HomeoPet range could help, please do get in touch. Our team of trained pet care staff are on hand to answer your questions.
- Blackwell, E. J., Twells, C., Seawright, A. & Casey, R. A. (2008).The relationship between training methods and the occurrence of behavior problems, as reported by owners, in a population of domestic dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 3, 207-217.
- Schwartz S (2002) Separation anxiety syndrome in cats: 136 cases (1991-2000), J Am Vet Med Assoc. Apr 1;220(7):1028-33.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12420782