Connect with us

Pet Care

How to help manage pet separation anxiety

To help pet parents identify separation anxiety in their pets and embrace alone time, consider these tips from Dr. Crista Coppola, PetSmart’s consulting animal behaviorist and separation anxiety expert.

Published

on

Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam from Unsplash.com

For more than a year, working from home and keeping social circles small due to COVID-19 has meant people have been able to spend more time with their pets. However, as more people are vaccinated and restrictions loosen across the country, it’s likely many are spending less time at home with their pets. As a result, pet parents should be prepared to spot the signs of separation anxiety and help their pets manage.

When left at home alone, pets can exhibit behaviors that could indicate they’re experiencing separation anxiety. It’s not a new problem, but it can become more pronounced as pet parents begin to spend less time at home, whether they’re returning to work full-time or just leaving the house more often. It may be especially challenging for pets that found their forever homes during the pandemic, as being alone may be a stark contrast to what they’ve become accustomed to. In these cases, pets may struggle to learn how to cope with being by themselves.

To help pet parents identify separation anxiety in their pets and embrace alone time, consider these tips from Dr. Crista Coppola, PetSmart’s consulting animal behaviorist and separation anxiety expert.

How to Identify Separation Anxiety

Changes in behavior are some of the most common indicators of separation anxiety. These behaviors are coping mechanisms and can include excessive barking or whining, destruction near exit points or windows, having accidents around the house, hyper salivating, pacing, decreased appetite and depression. To better understand what your pet is experiencing, consider setting up a video camera when you leave to see how he or she behaves when you’re not there.

Ways to Prepare Your Pet for Separation

Unpredictability has been shown to add stress for many animals, including dogs, Coppola said. Routines, however, can help many pets cope with stressful situations. Because a vacation or long weekend getaway involves a change in your pet’s routine, these seemingly small changes can make him or her susceptible to separation anxiety. If you know change is coming, slowly introduce your pet to the idea of being alone beforehand to help your four-legged friend prepare. Start by taking short trips outside your home without your pet – even if just for a few minutes – and consider leaving treats or toys to help make the alone time more enjoyable.

When you are ready to leave the house, set up a cozy, inviting space for your pet, where he or she can’t destroy items or get hurt trying to escape. Consider a non-carpeted area in case of accidents or install a doggie door to allow for going outside when necessary. Prior to any period of alone time, mentally and physically engaging your pet by going for a walk or run, or working on quick trick training, can make it more likely he or she spends at least some of the time you’re gone resting.

While you’re gone,  Coppola recommends providing your pets with enrichment activities such as puzzles, chews and calming aids.

Solutions for Coping with Anxiety

If your pet is excessively barking or exhibiting destructive behaviors, never punish him or her and avoid expressing disappointment or frustration, Coppola said. It is understandable to feel this way, but it can upset your pet further and add to the stress he or she may already be feeling. Instead, spend time having fun together when you are home to help ease the transition by gradually introducing your pet to the amount of time left alone.

Learn more and find additional solutions to help deal with separation anxiety at petsmart.com/newnormal.

Zest Magazine accepts contributions promoting everything about living the good life (and how to make this so). C'mon, give us a yell.

Pet Care

Dogs act jealously even when they don’t see their rival

Dogs appear to be one of the few species that might display jealous behaviors in ways similar to a human child showing jealousy when their mother gives affection to another child. In humans, jealousy is closely linked with self-awareness, which is one reason animal-cognition researchers are so interested in studying jealousy and other secondary emotions in animals.

Published

on

Photo by Jamie Street from Unsplash.com

Past surveys have shown that more than 80% of dog owners report observing jealous behaviors from their dogs–vocalizations, agitated behavior, pulling on a leash–when they give attention to other dogs. New research published in the journal Psychological Science supports these observations and finds that dogs also exhibit jealous behaviors when they merely imagine that their owner is interacting with a potential rival, in this case, a highly realistic artificial dog.

“Research has supported what many dog owners firmly believe–dogs exhibit jealous behavior when their human companion interacts with a potential rival,” said Amalia Bastos with the University of Auckland and lead author on the paper. “We wanted to study this behavior more fully to determine if dogs could, like humans, mentally represent a situation that evoked jealousy.”

Dogs appear to be one of the few species that might display jealous behaviors in ways similar to a human child showing jealousy when their mother gives affection to another child. In humans, jealousy is closely linked with self-awareness, which is one reason animal-cognition researchers are so interested in studying jealousy and other secondary emotions in animals.

To test how and when dogs display jealous behavior, the researchers presented 18 dogs with situations where they could imagine a social interaction between their human companion and either a realistic fake dog or a fleece cylinder. The fake dog served as a potential rival for attention while the cylinder served as a control.

In the experiment, the dogs observed the fake-dog rival positioned next to their owner. A barrier was then placed between the dog and the potential rival obscuring them from view. Despite blocking the line of sight, the dogs forcefully attempted to reach their owners when they appeared to stroke the rival fake dog behind the barrier. In a repeat experiment using a fleece cylinder rather than a fake dog, the dogs pulled on the lead with far less force.

Through their study, Bastos and her colleagues found that dogs showed three human-like signatures of jealous behavior. Jealous behavior emerged only when their owner interacted with a perceived social rival and not an inanimate object; occurred as a consequence of that interaction and not due to a potential rival’s mere presence; and emerged even for an out-of-sight interaction between their owner and a social rival.

“These results support claims that dogs display jealous behavior. They also provide the first evidence that dogs can mentally represent jealousy-inducing social interactions,” said Bastos. “Previous studies confounded jealous behavior with play, interest, or aggression, because they never tested the dogs’ reactions to the owner and the social rival being present in the same room but not interacting.”

“There is still plenty of work to do to establish the extent of the similarities between the minds of humans and other animals, especially in terms of understanding the nature of nonhuman animals’ emotional experiences,” said Bastos. “It is too early to say whether dogs experience jealousy as we do, but it is now clear that they react to jealousy-inducing situations, even if these occur out-of-sight.”

Continue Reading

Pet Care

Keep your pets cool

American Humane reminds pet owners to keep their pets safe, hydrated and cool by following simple tips and being mindful.

Published

on

Photo by Karin Hiselius from Unsplash.com

As people across the country are sweltering amid a record-setting heat wave that is making its way across the nation, American Humane reminds pet owners to keep their pets safe, hydrated and cool by following simple tips and being mindful.

“With record-setting highs closing businesses and keeping folks indoors, American Humane encourages pet owners to prioritize their family’s safety over fun,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “By putting in some time for safety and preparation, Independence Day celebrations can be fun for people and pets.”

Intense heat is pulverizing the American Northwest. Across Oregon and Washington, high temperatures will rise more than 30 degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service. In many cities known for their temperate weather, this heat wave is not only setting records, but threatening communities. If you’re uncomfortable outside, then so is your pet.

Follow these safety tips to stay cool despite the heat:

  • Don’t exercise your pets in dangerous conditions. Regular exercise, surprisingly, can be dangerous for pets at this time of year. Even if your pets are active, get exercise every day and are in excellent physical shape, you may want to scale back their activities or change your exercise routine to the cooler hours of the morning or evening.
  • A pet in a closed vehicle is not cool.Pets are affected by heat much more quickly than humans are, and that leaving a pet in a car for “just a minute” can have a deadly outcome. Remember that cars heat up fast—even with the windows cracked!
  • At home outdoors, ensure that your pets have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Your trip to the supermarket or dentist’s office may take longer than you expect. Temperatures in your yard can increase to high levels in just a few hours, and heat stroke can become a serious issue.
  • Heat stroke requires immediate veterinary attention! Heat stroke can be deadly. Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, lethargy, stumbling, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and coma. If you suspect heat stroke, you should seek veterinary treatment for your pet as soon as possible. You can provide some immediate treatment using cool (but not icy) water to lower your pet’s temperature by submerging the pet in a tub of water, wetting him with a hose or sponging him down.
  • Enjoy your spring-into-summer days with your furred friends—just be sure to take a few precautions and stay cool!
Continue Reading

Pet Care

10 Tips to prepare pets before storms and wildfires hit

There are three key steps to being ready for a disaster: making a plan, building an emergency kit, and staying up to date on the latest news and storm-related developments in your area.

Published

on

Photo by Jamie Street from Unsplash.com

With wildfires raging and a busier-than-usual hurricane season predicted, pet owners should begin preparing now for emergency situations. Dr. Jose Arce, President-Elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico who has been through hurricanes with pets, both as an owner and a veterinarian.

He says there are three key steps to being ready for a disaster: making a plan, building an emergency kit, and staying up to date on the latest news and storm-related developments in your area.

Dr. Arce’s 10 Pet Preparedness Tips:

  1. Get your pet microchipped. If a pet gets lost or needs a place to ride out the storm, he or she will get back to you.
  2. Have evacuation plans mapped out before emergency situations arise.
  3. Contact friends or neighbors to coordinate safe travel plans.
  4. Have back-up care for your pets ready in the case you can’t make it home.
  5. Put together a pet emergency go-bag with several days’ food, medicines, first aid kit and grooming items.
  6. Make sure your pet has all their tags and IDs in case you have to evacuate.
  7. Practice finding a safe place at home with your pet, such as a basement or interior room, in case of tornados or high winds.
  8. Keep a handful of items – such as a leash, water dish, and blanket – in your car at all times in case you have to move quickly.
  9. Tune into the latest news/weather reports to be forewarned of any imminent danger.
  10. Contact your veterinarian if you need more clarity on how to prepare.

“Emergency situations are unpredictable,” said Arce. “Being prepared early will help you, your family, and pet have the best chance at avoiding disaster.”

Log on to www.avma.org for more valuable information about pets and pet care.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Like Us On Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Most Popular

Copyright ©FRINGE PUBLISHING. All rights reserved.