How to support a pet with separation anxiety


Animals can expertise anxiousness the identical method that people can, and seeing them in misery could be heartbreaking. With the assistance of a scientific animal behaviourist, we discover how we will higher help our companions

Many people shall be aware of anxiety or depression, however do you know that our furry mates can expertise this, too? In response to analysis by, one in 10 canines reside with a psychological well being drawback – equating to just about a million canines within the UK. And it’s not solely affecting man’s greatest good friend – cats, rabbits, birds, and all other forms of pets can expertise psychological well being issues, too.

Characterised by agitated, and typically harmful, behaviour in your absence, separation anxiousness can typically be debilitating for our pets. And, following lockdown, the place many people have been spending much more time with our companions, it might be on the rise.

Right here, scientific animal behaviourist Heather Thomas, head of behaviour at pet care app Joii, shares ideas for supporting a pet that’s experiencing separation anxiousness.

Create a protected haven

“To make sure our pets are pleased at house, we’d like to ensure they’re snug with being left alone,” says Heather. As she advises, there are a selection of the way that you could create a protected house to your pet, together with ensuring they’ve a snug place to chill out.

“Make the protected haven a spot your pet desires to be – drop treats there and have toys accessible for them, too. Pheromone sprays also can assist to chill out them – that is one thing it is best to plug in close to the house.”

Past that, Heather additionally factors out that sure genres of music – reggae and classical – have been discovered to be notably soothing to animals, and so it might be value leaving music on low if you depart the home.


Illustrations by Becky Johnston

Indicators of separation anxiousness in canines:

  • Damaging behaviour
  • Howling or barking
  • Toileting
  • Trembling or pacing
  • Extreme salivation
  • Self-mutilation
  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Vomiting

Educate them to settle

It’s one thing that may be typically missed however, as Heather notes, simply as people could be taught the best way to chill out by utilizing yoga and mindfulness methods, so can our animals – and it may be key to serving to them work via anxiousness. It’s value talking to your vet about particular ideas to your animal, however there are additionally some normal issues you’ll be able to look out for in cats and canines.

“A ‘settle’ is them laying down, however in such a method that it promotes rest,” Heather explains. “Usually, it’s once they’re on their aspect with their hips popped over slightly. Any time you occur to see your pet laying down like this, give them a deal with.”

Make alone time interesting

There are specific methods that you could progressively assist your pet come to see a little bit of alone time as a great factor. “For instance, in case your pet follows you to the bathroom, pop some treats exterior the toilet door earlier than you go in,” Heather advises. “This provides them publicity to being alone for a brief time period, and creates constructive associations by giving them a deal with.”

For canines, you may as well strive filling a toy with treats, and leaving it in a room the place you don’t spend a lot time – Heather notes how this may encourage them to analyze, and revel in retaining themselves occupied. For cats, she recommends popping a heat-pad in an area away from you, to assist them construct a constructive affiliation with being in a unique room.

Indicators of separation anxiousness in cats:

  • Toileting
  • Being aggressive
  • Hiding
  • Below or over-grooming
  • Sleeping rather a lot
  • Being on excessive alert

Do it progressively

Systematic desensitisation is one other method that can also be utilized in people – progressively exposing ourselves to a worry to assist in overcoming phobias – and it may be used to assist pets really feel snug with being alone.

“The idea is basically leaving your pet for snippets of time, then progressively constructing as much as longer durations,” Heather says.

It is a notably good tip for many who are anxious about how their animals will react in the event that they return to a office after lockdown. If you happen to can, attempt to depart your animal alone, rising your day trip of the home as the times go by. With time, this might be the important thing to serving to your pet really feel calm, protected, and pleased.

If you happen to’re anxious about your pet’s behaviour, communicate to a vet, or go to for extra data.


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