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Post-pandemic stress in pets: how to ease and spot signs of separation anxiety as you return to work

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 7:22 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - After over a year of extra attention and quality time, your furry friends might be feeling some separation anxiety as you return to the office.

Signs you can spot in your dog can include, destructive behavior, trembling, and an increase in vocalization like barking. There are several things you can do to help your pets adjust, starting with easing them into their new routine.

Newberry Animal Hospital Medical Director Ruth-Ann Spinosa said consistency is key, along with plenty of exercise.

“When we get home from work, we’re a little but tired and we may not have the energy to give them those five walks we were able to during the quarantine, but it’s important we’re able to give them that energy expenditure that they need,” Spinosa said.

In addition to physical activity, Spinosa stressed the importance of mental stimulation as well.

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“There are all kinds of toys we can use to keep your dogs stimulated and busy while you’re gone so taking a kong toy and stuffing it with peanut butter or canned food or yogurt and freezing it to give to them while you’re going to work,” said Spinosa. “There’s also little busy mats where you can put peanut butter or canned food into it and then they have to spend some time working to get it.”

Spinosa said the most common sign of stress in cats is abnormal urinating outside of the litter box.

It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for your pet to adjust. If the problems persist for more than a couple of months, she said you can seek help from your vet for things like calming supplements and medications, acupuncture, and herbal therapy.

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