If there is one thing most pet owners would ask for, it’s the ability to know why their furry friend is in distress when they notice signs of anxiety, fear, or aggression. Both cats and dogs can have all kinds of psychological triggers that change their emotions and their behavior, and some of these triggers are easier to identify than others.
Easily, one of the most common triggers for both cats and dogs is separation anxiety. While it’s more common in canines, there are plenty of felines who can experience emotional distress when they are separated from their owners as well. Separation anxiety is particularly tricky since the symptoms peak when we’re not actually around to soothe our beloved pet. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s not treatable, especially if we’re going back to the office. Still, we know though, that our pets have gotten accustomed to us being around them all day long, and it’s expected that they may become uneasy once that changes as we get back to pre-pandemic life.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety refers to anxiety that is present when a pet is separated from a member of the household that they are bonded to. When that member of the household leaves, the pet becomes anxious and remains anxious until the owner returns. Separation anxiety is also common between children and parents, and people in codependent relationships. The difference is that, unlike humans, we can’t reassure our pets that everything is okay and that we’ll be back soon, in an effort to alleviate some of their emotional stress.
Many of us have spent unprecedentedly long amounts of time at home with our pets since a lot of us have found ourselves working home for 2 years thanks to the COVID pandemic. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to give our pets lots of extra attention throughout the day, but not all of us have the luxury of staying home forever. If you’re getting ready to go back to spending 9-5 away from home, you’ll want to really observe your pet’s behavior to see if they’re showing signs of distress now that you’re no longer around all the time.
Signs That Your Pet is Experiencing Separation Anxiety
A pet that is dealing with separation anxiety can exhibit various symptoms that point to distress. These symptoms include:
- Excessive vocalizing
- Excessive grooming or chewing on the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Destructive behaviors around the home
- House-training regressions (urinating on the floor or outside of the litter box, etc.)
- Clinginess when the owner is present
Treating Separation Anxiety in Pets
If your pet is showing signs of separation anxiety, it’s important to take their needs seriously. None of us want to think that our beloved canine or feline is distraught each time we’re out of the home. Here are some things that you can try.
#1: See a Veterinarian
Whenever an animal is displaying frequent signs of distress, a trip to the veterinarian is a good idea. Your vet can take into account their unique circumstances and come up with some suggestions, while also ruling out underlying health issues that can make a pet’s stress levels worse.
#2: Consider CBD
Yes, CBD can really help with separation anxiety. In fact, many pet parents give their pets CBD on a daily basis for all kinds of reasons. Since all mammals share an endocannabinoid system, pets can get the same results from cannabidiol that we do. And, that includes a positive effect on stress levels.
In fact, researchers are exploring the effect that CBD may have on pet anxiety as we speak, and, are finding promising results. One study found that CBD treats lowered the fear response in dogs, and more studies are underway to show us just how much this cannabinoid may play a role in addressing a pet’s emotional regulatory needs.
#3: Keep the Household Stimulating and Calming When You’re Not at Home
We can’t alleviate our pets’ separation anxiety by simply staying home all the time – that wouldn’t be realistic. What we can do is control the environment of our home when we’re not there, to make it as soothing and enjoyable for our pets as possible.
Many pet owners like to put on calming music when they’re not at home, such as meditation music that is played on loop. Other pet owners make a point to fill their homes with stimulating activities to keep pets distracted. This can include hanging a birdfeeder outside a window to keep a cat entertained, or even filling your home with toys that your dog can play with.
#4: Maintain a Consistent Routine
If you’re going to be adjusting to a new schedule at the office, it’s important not to add to a pet’s existing stress by throwing off their routine. Try to continue feeding them at the same times that they’re used to and giving them playtime at the usual hours. Pets are very sensitive to routine changes, thus changing their schedule can really upset them.
If you are unable to maintain the schedule you’ve been keeping while working from home, then try to gradually adjust their routine to support your work schedule, rather than changing it abruptly. For example, if you’ve been feeding them at 4 PM but get home from work after 6 PM, try moving up their dinner time by 30 minutes every few days.
#5: Consider Getting Another Pet
It’s possible that your pet could use a friend when you’re not home. Some pets may experience separation anxiety because they’re lonely, and simply need a companion to keep them company. Consider getting another pet to hang out with your cat or dog when you’re away, especially if you’re someone who spends long hours at work each day.
Just keep in mind that while most pets do enjoy having a companion, some pets are strictly antisocial and will become more stressed out by the presence of another animal in their home. Many adoption agencies offer trial periods, where you can spend a few weeks with a new cat or dog in your home to see how your first pet responds. Also, make sure to follow all of the important protocols when it comes to introducing a new pet to your cat or dog, which includes introducing them very gradually so as not to overwhelm them.
Minimize Your Pet’s Separation Anxiety with Chill Paws
At Chill Paws, we offer a variety of CBD products formulated exclusively for cats and dogs, with ingredients that are safe for their bodies and dosage amounts appropriate for their size. A daily serving of CBD may help play a role in minimizing stress and anxiety, to help them feel more at ease when you’re not around.