Minimize separation anxiety as you prepare to return to work

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Minimize separation anxiety as you prepare to return to work - Vetster

Prepare your pets for the return to office

If the last year has shown us anything, it's that we've all grown pretty attached to our pets. They've become our trusted sources of comfort and companionship, helping us make sense of the year that was and offering companionship while we've been stuck at home.

Whether you've been a pet parent for a long time or adopted a pet during the lockdown, it's safe to say that the presence of a pet has been one of the few silver linings in an otherwise extremely challenging year. It's only normal that we feel a little strange about the prospect of not having them around. So, as everyday life gradually resumes, and with a return to the office imminent or already underway, our Vetster veterinarians have shared a few stress-reducing tips to help calm your animals' anxieties.

Transferring stress

The first thing to know is that our animals are highly tuned in to our own levels of stress. So if you’re stressed, it’s likely that your animals will sense this and also be on high alert. The second thing to know is that we humans are great at projecting that stress onto our pets. If we are stressed, our pets must then ALSO feel stressed, right? It’s totally normal to feel this way but if we recognize that what we perceive as stressful isn’t the same as our animals, we can often de-escalate the situation. The truth is, that our animals read our cues, and these cues are what we want to focus on when we think about going back to the office.

How separation anxiety affects animals

Your pets might have a tough time understanding why you're suddenly no longer home all day, every day. And because they can't communicate that with words, they tell you in other ways. Dogs might bark, howl, show destructive behaviour, or urinate or defecate inside the house. According to Purina, cats tend to become either clingy or more withdrawn or exhibit similar behaviours to dogs, like peeing outside the litter box or tearing up furniture or personal items. When there’s a major change in their life associated with the behavior, it’s likely it’s caused by stress. Here's how to help your pet adjust to your new routines before these stress related behaviors start.

Routine cues are key

Desentizing your animals to the cues they associate with you leaving can help to take the stress out of your departure. Get dressed, grab your bag and keys, and head out the door. Come back a few minutes later and settle in for your day. Try this over a couple of weeks prior to your office start-date, leaving for longer periods of time. After a few days you’ll notice your pet introduces their own routine of saying goodbye, napping, and welcoming you home. This is known as the planned departure technique and works wonders to build a routine that is calm and anxiety free for when you ultimately do leave your pet for a period of time.

Don’t Forget Your Cat!

Despite their sometimes aloof behaviours, cats are sticklers for routine, so if you've got a feline friend in the home, don't forget about their needs! They hide their stress much better than dogs in most cases, but often feel it way more. Your cat will be fully aware of changes to your routine and will sometimes express their displeasure in less than desired manners. Try connecting with one of Vetster's feline specialists to develop a "back to work routine strategy," an undeniable win-win for you and your cat.

Develop better bathroom habits

On average, dogs use the bathroom every four to six hours, but because you were around the house more, they may have become more used to regular trips outdoors. If that's the case,, Vetser's Veterinarian and Medical Director, Dr. Sarah Machell, recommends building better bladder control for one to two weeks before returning to the office by spacing out their walks or backyard outings. This will help them gain better control over their bladders without having to feel the discomfort of waiting. If you're planning on being out of home for longer than six hours at a time, hiring a dog walker is a wise move. Keep in mind that if you're going this route, it's best to start planning now to introduce your dog to this new person.

Get advice and support straight from the experts.

If you're still concerned about leaving your pet, or if you've tried any of the above steps to no avail, contact our experts at Vetster. Our licensed veterinarians or technicians will happily coach you through this transition and provide you with the best tips and tricks adapted to your pet's personality.

With appointments starting as low as $50, this is a worthwhile investment that'll put you at ease and give your pets the peace of mind they so lovingly deserve.