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Going back to work? Your pets may show signs of separation anxiety

KTVB spoke with a Boise veterinarian about the signs to look for and tips for how to prepare Fluffy or Fido.

BOISE, Idaho — Since many of us started working from home, we've been spending a lot of time with the furry members of our family. 

Now, as Idaho begins to reopen, a lot of people are getting back to work and leaving Fluffy or Fido at home. That could make things a little ‘ruff’ and result in separation anxiety in pets.

“It's a very real thing, there are I think between 20-to-40 percent of animals that are referred to behaviorists for separation anxiety specifically,” said Dr. Jennifer Norman, veterinarian and owner of Ada Animal Hospital.

With so many people working from home lately, pets have become used to having their owners there around the clock, making it harder for them when their owners leave and can lead to some anxious behaviors. 

“Some of the most common things that we see in what people typically think about is when they're destructive at home, they're tearing through the door, eating up couches, tearing through the trash,” Norman said.  

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If your pet is pacing, howling, showing signs of self-mutilation like chewing at their tails or paw, or obsessively grooming, those too, can be signs of anxiety behavior. 

So, what should pet owners do?

According to Norman, you should develop a routine and do it now, even if you're still working from home. 

“So, get up when you're wanting to go to work,” Norman said. “Get dressed, make your coffee, grab your car keys, jingle them, walk into the garage, walk around, but then maybe you come back inside. We're starting to get them re-acclimated to what your routine is going forward.” 

Also, make things fun for your fur baby whenever you do leave the house.

“So toys, put some peanut butter in or wet dog food, different puzzle toys that you can hide the kibble in, different things that you can leave with them, but you only give them when you go away, that way it's extra fun for them,” Norman said. “They only get the best toy or best treat when mom and dad leave.” 

This should help keep the furriest member of your family from exhibiting those anxious behaviors. 

Norman also recommends getting a web camera to watch your pet’s behavior when you're not home. Also, leave on the TV or a radio to create a relaxing environment.

Lastly, anxiety issues can sometimes be deep-rooted in pets and they may require medication. Norman told KTVB that's not to be ashamed of, but it's something that should be discussed with your vet.

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