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Dealing With Pet Separation Anxiety

Guest Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess

Going away and leaving your pet, like I had to leave Henrietta recently, is not at all easy, but I am not sure who suffers the most — her or me. From the second I pull out the suitcase, she starts going into a sad puppy mini tailspin; this could be from my increased stress level at having to leave or her knowing I am leaving, not sure which, but it is painful for us both. Once the suitcase comes out, she must maintain eye, or skin, contact with me at all times or her whining and shivering and shaking is unbearable (for me).

I left Arizona and headed back to Rochester, NY to be with family to help them through some health issues with my dad – and to eat Thanksgiving dinner, too! Henrietta is at home; she is safe, cared for and will likely get more love and more spoiling than she does from me, but the separation is still painful for us both.

At least I can look at the calendar and know when I’ll be back, she simply paces in front of the door or rests her head on the windowsill for hours a day waiting for her “mom” to come back. Who knows, though, maybe the pet separation anxiety is all in my head – you know like when you drop your children off at kindergarten and they cling to the door screaming for you, but the teacher says once you’re gone, your child wipes his tears and happily forgets about you.

Here are some tips I have come up with to help her a little bit. Honestly I am not certain how much comfort they provide, but it helps me to know I’ve done what I can. Note that this is what works for me and is not scientifically proven to offer results!

  1. Keep your pet in as much of a familiar environment as possible. For me, that means keeping Henrietta at home, being cared for by someone she knows and trusts.
  2. Keep your pet on her same routine as it comes to walking, treats, dinner times, etc.
  3. Offer your pet an item of yours that has your scent (for me, Henrietta always sleeps on my pillow so I make certain I leave it available for her when I’m gone).
  4. Keep your pets’ favorite toys available and perhaps purchase a new one as a distraction when you’re gone.
  5. While Henrietta hasn’t ever forgotten her potty-training routines when I’m away, make certain the caregiver who’s watching your pet is a bit forgiving if Fido makes a puddle on the floor.
  6. If you’re taking your pet to someone’s house to be cared for, make certain you visit several times to give her the lay of the land first so she is more comfortable.
  7. If you have more than one pet (say a cat and a dog) try to keep them together when you’re traveling. They know each other so having a familiar face amongst strangers in a strange place may help each of them cope.

Above all remember that the anxiety is probably worse for you than it is for your pet. It pains me to admit it but sometimes Henrietta acts as if I’ve been gone for eons when I’ve only run to check the mail and have been gone for five minutes. Check in with the caregiver frequently to see how Fido and Fluffy are doing and enjoy your stay! 

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  1. My roomate leaves about once a month, he cares for his two dogs Harpo and Nemo, they miss a him a lot when he is gone so thank you for the tips:)!

  2. Really interesting post, I hate leaving Suki during the day when I go out to work. She has begrudgingly accepted the routine but it breaks my heart. I am going to make sure she has something of mine to snuggle up to from now on.

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