Pet owners are being urged to spot the signs of their furry friends’ separation anxiety as there has been a “significant increase” in cases as people return to offices and social settings return to normal.
Conder woman Elvina Muench said her seven-year-old dog, Sushi, had been on anti-anxiety medication since she started going back to the office two days per week after one year of working from home.
“He pretty much stares at me in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work. He would mope all day long while waiting. It’s the whole human contact he misses,” she said.
Ms Muench said Sushi lies on her bed for most of the day until she gets home.
“When I do, he just goes nuts,” she said.
Ms Muench, who works in public service administration, said she would be making an appointment with a vet to work out a plan to treat Sushi, a Maltese x Shih Tzu.
“It’s never going to go away, so it’s more about managing it,” she said.
Greencross Vets Tuggeranong’s senior veterinarian Dr Rayya Takieddine-Malaeb said they had seen “a significant increase in consultations booked to discuss behaviour concerns and I see patients for this each week”.
“We are also seeing a rise in aggression due to lack of socialisation during the critical socialisation puppy period as puppy classes ceased occurring at the peak of the pandemic,” Dr Takieddine-Malaeb said.
She said the constant stress could lead to other medical health concerns like skin or gastrointestinal issues (which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting).
“They can be so terrified that they injure themselves while panicking at home and escape the premises while looking for their owners,” she said.
“We had one dog come in who escaped from his home and sadly got hit by a car.”
Dr Takieddine-Malaeb said signs that pet owners may monitor include pets becoming unsettled and pacing and clinging to owners when they sense their owners are getting ready to leave for work.
“Dogs will have high-pitched barking and excessive drooling when left alone and may chew furniture and house soil even when toilet trained,” she said.
“Also look out for over-the-top excitement and rejoicing when owners return home, loud barking and going bananas.”
Pet owners concerned about their pets showing signs of separation anxiety are urged to book a consultation with a veterinarian as the first port of call.
“They need to first ensure there is no underlying medical condition making your pet feel unwell and extra clingy,” Dr Takieddine-Malaeb said.
“If the health check is clear, they can recommend a range of products from pheromones or supplements to help calm your pets in the short term,” she said.
“People should never punish pets or force them into crates as that will immensely exacerbate the problem”.
“Also don’t assume you can just train them out if it. Some of these pets need more help and require anti-anxiety medication coupled with an environmental and behaviour management plan.”
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