Vacations & What They Mean For Pets: Separation Anxiety
Summer is a perfect time to travel to unexplored or favorite destinations, but if you’re a pet owner, you know how hard it can be to leave your pet behind while you go on vacation, especially if your pet suffers from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is quite common in pets. Both dogs and cats can get anxious when their owners are away from home. When pets are distressed, they have the potential to do harm to themselves and their environments. An anxious pet may destroy items in the home or soil the house out of panic. They may also scratch at the walls and doors or try to escape from their crates or rooms in attempts to reunite themselves with their owners.
If your pet has separation anxiety, there are still ways to go on vacation without worrying that your pet is distressed at home. Follow our guide to ensure that your pet’s time away from you is as stress-free as possible.
Picking the Right Pet-Sitter
- The first step is to determine the right kind of pet-sitter for you pet. If you have a social dog, maybe he will do best at a boarding facility where he can play with other dogs. Or if you have a cat that doesn’t like to leave the house, she will probably do best with an in-house pet-sitter. If your pet is uncomfortable with unfamiliar people, you may want to ask a friend or family member that the pet knows to watch your pet.
- If you choose to use a boarding facility or out-of-house pet-sitter, make sure the place your pet will be staying is clean, trusted, and relatively calm and quiet.
- If your pet will be interacting with other pets, make sure they get along. The same goes for children and other people in the house. You don’t want to risk your pet biting a child or other animal out of fear.
- Make sure the people that will be caring for your pet have enough time to give them the attention they need. A little love goes a long way in making your pet feel less anxious.
Preparing for the Separation
- If your pet’s separation anxiety is severe, you may want to spend time working on the issue before you go. Start by leaving your pet alone for short period of time and gradually increasing the length of time you are gone. Talk to your veterinarian for more tips on dealing with separation anxiety.
- If your pet is staying somewhere other than your home, pack some familiar items to remind them of you. Send your dog with an old blanket or dog bed with your home’s smell on it. You may also want to send his favorite toys, food and water bowls, and of course his own food and treats.
- Talk to your pet-sitter about your concerns. Make sure your pet-sitter understands that your dog may be anxious when you leave. Your pet-sitter will only be able to help your pet if they understand the reason for your pet’s behavior.
- Take your dog on a walk before dropping him off at the pet-sitter’s. A tired dog simply has less energy to be anxious, which will make your dog’s initial transition much more calm.
- Consider a ThunderShirt or other compression shirt. The soothing pressure makes many dogs feel more comfortable and secure during thunderstorms or other stressful situations, like boarding. Try the ThunderShirt before you leave, and if it works you can pass it on to your pet-sitter.
How Can the Pet-Sitter Help?
- Once you’ve warned your pet-sitter about your pet’s anxiety, there are many things they can do to make your pet more comfortable. If you know that certain things will help make your pet feel more calm, such as playing with other dogs, having some alone time, or receiving lots of love and cuddles, let your pet-sitter know.
- Turning on the TV or playing soothing music for some background noise can help many pets feel calm if there is a storm or loud noise outside that is making them anxious.
- Separating dogs into their own areas and giving them tasty treats, like a rawhide stuffed with peanut butter, will keep them busy and take their minds off any anxiety.
Following this guide will help minimize your pet’s stress while you’re away, making summer vacations much more enjoyable and relaxing for both you and your pet!