Understanding your pet’s separation anxiety

As the world begins to open up from the pandemic, many pet parents are changing their daily routines and leaving the house for work or school, which can lead to anxious behavior in pets.

We asked Julie Burgess, a Certified Veterinary Technician on the Petzey network, to lay out everything you need to know about your pet’s separation anxiety.

From general health questions to urgent concerns, use the Petzey app to talk or video chat with a licensed vet professional to get answers in minutes. If a trip to the vet clinic or hospital is needed, we’ll help find ones near you.

What is Separation Anxiety and How Is It Diagnosed?

Animals that are overly attached to one or more family members can develop separation anxiety, but only a licensed veterinarian can diagnose it.

Which Pets Suffer From Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety affects mostly dogs; however, it can be problematic for cats too.

What Are the Signs of Separation Anxiety?

Common signs include:

  • Barking or howling
  • Drooling
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape
  • Chewing, digging, or destruction of the surroundings and/or themselves
  • Peeing/Pooping even when house-trained
  • Not wanting to eat

My Pet May Have Separation Anxiety. What Do I Do?

First, if you have a dog, consider consulting a qualified dog trainer who works with separation anxiety because doing so may save you some money. If you suspect your cat has separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian. They’ll ask you some questions and determine the best plan for your kitty.

I’m Nervous About a Trainer Coming to My House.

Many trainers offer virtual services, especially during COVID, and can design a program even virtually. Provide your trainer with pictures of the destruction and video, if possible, because it’s helpful for your trainer to see what happens when you’re gone.

How Can I Help My Pet In the Meantime?

  • Give your pet plenty of activity before you leave.
  • Make your pet’s area safe. Open the blinds, remove breakable items or those with sentimental value, and make sure electrical cords are well hidden.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Leave your clothes for your pet with your scent on them.
  • Make arrivals and departures from your home uneventful.
  • Have a friend or neighbor check on your pet.
  • Give your pet some love when they’re calm.
  • Avoid disciplining your pet.

Can Separation Anxiety Be Cured?

Sometimes. Often the symptoms can be managed and lessen over time. Occasionally some pets will need medication to help their anxiety.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Petzey! We’re here 24/7/365, and our credentialed vet professionals are ready to help you and your pet.

Julie Burgess, CVT

Julie Burgess, CVT

My desire to help people and their pets stems from being a Certified Veterinary Technician for 20 years and having owned numerous pets for more than 30. I had 11 pets at one time!

In addition to working at Petzey, I’m an SEO copywriter for the pet industry and have trained dogs for more than seven years (the last two years entirely virtually!).

Member of APDT and IAABC
Fear Free Certified

Got questions about your pet’s separation anxiety? Use Petzey to talk or video chat with a credentialed vet professional to get answers right away, all for only $20 a consultation.

This information is offered for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace traditional veterinary medical advice or create a veterinarian-client-patient relationship. You should not change your pet’s care or treatment on the basis of this information. If you think your pet requires emergency assistance, you should take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.