With Sydney-siders and Melbournites celebrating their respective ‘Freedom Days’, keen to get back doing all the things we’ve loved and missed, our four-legged best friends are at risk of feeling isolated.
A survey by Royal Canin has found that 52 per cent of Australian dogs are now suffering from lockdown separation anxiety. Having spent the last 100 days or more by their owner’s side as they worked from home, or for new puppies that have only known life with their ‘pack’ at home 24/7, our sudden shift back into ‘normal life’ is predicted to cause more stress, anxiety and in some cases, disruptive behaviour for man’s best friend.
The survey found that 37 per cent of dog-owners do not feel equipped to manage their pet’s separation anxiety successfully.
While no one likes to see their pet stressed, Royal Canin Veterinarian, Dr Mina Hamilton said it is crucial we help our pets adapt to being left alone.
“After the year we’ve all had, we’re all keen to get back out and about. But unfortunately, our pets will find this sudden change to routine stressful, anxiety-inducing and can result in changes in behaviour.”
Dr Hamilton said the typical signs of separation anxiety can include:
Following you around your home
Trying to leave the house when you leave
Barking, whimpering or howling when you leave or after you’ve gone
Staying close to the door that you left through
Pacing or unable to rest or relax while you’re away Destructive behaviour such as chewing or destroying things when they’re alone
Reacting to noises that they wouldn’t normally react to while you’re home
“Patience is key in these situations. It’s important to remember that while we’re keen to get out and about again, our pets are experiencing a huge shift in their routine and life, and this is very unsettling for them.”
With over half of Australian dog-owners now facing this difficult period, it’s important for pet owners to understand what to do to support their dog overcome this anxiety. We all know the drill of leaving our pets alone for short periods of time, not making a fuss when we leave and arrive, but what can we do to support our pets while they’re alone?
Did you know dogs often lick themselves or other items as a calming technique? Leaving them with interactive toys such as a Kong, LickiMat or a snuffle mat will help to calm them, keep them busy and enrich the time spent away from you.
Pheromone collars and diffusers
For dogs experiencing anxiety, pheromone collars and diffusers can be a way to help them to feel settled and comforted. Dr Hamilton says these devices use a synthetic pheromone that mimics the appeasing pheromone a lactating mother puts off after feeding her puppies. These pheromones can be comforting for dogs of all ages and can help your dog adapt to a new routine.
Leaving a TV on or playing music will minimise how quiet the house is and can help to comfort your pet.
Check your dog’s diet
It’s important to consult your vet before switching your pet’s diet, however in some cases tailored nutrition can help pets adapt to stressful situations and maintain their emotional balance. Royal Canin Relax Care is rich in fish protein hydrolysate, that contains an active ingredient, proven to help manage stress in dogs when fed over a six week period.
Ask an expert
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – this can be from your veterinarian or from experts such as pet behavioralists to provide you with techniques to support your pet.
ROYAL CANIN® has a range of nutritionally complete diets that support pet stress and anxiety. These can be found at all speciality pet retailers, veterinary clinics or online at www.royalcanin.com.