CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — For many people working from home, their pets are now used to seeing them all day, everyday.
“He obviously is home all day and gets to go on multiple walks, multiple runs and just explore the outside all day, so he definitely has a lot more freedom than normal,” said Denise Greenway who owns a 1-year-old German Shepard.
Greenway tells KDKA she manages a bar in the Strip District and has been out of work for about 10 weeks. She is soon planning to head back to work as Allegheny County moves into the green phase, but has concerns about leaving her dog.
“He doesn’t even like when we go outside without him anymore, so I feel like he is going to go through a lot of anxiety. I may end up having to take him with me a lot more often just to wean him back into being alone,” Greenway said.
Veterinarians in the region are preparing for more cases of separation anxiety as pet owners leave their pets behind at home.
“For pets and people that have blown up their normal routine for clear reasons associated with COVID-19 there could be an adjustment period,” said Dr. RJ Skalos, with Windrose Animal Hospital.
Dr. Skalos tells KDKA the signs of anxiety will differ depending on the age of your dog or cat.
“They won’t leave your side, potentially destructive behavior, they will start scratching at the doors or carpet especially when you leave,” Dr. Skalos said.
His advice to pet owners is to start establishing a routine now.
“Start small so maybe an hour or two or three at a time whether that’s in a crate or in a room or area of the house, leave your dog alone. Start to develop a routine so they get used to it, so when you actually do leave to go back to work, it’s not going to shock their system,” Dr. Skalos said.
For some pet owners like Greenway, there is a concern that the dog could be spiteful.
“Hopefully, he takes it well because he broke out of the kennel the other day,” Greenway said.
Dr. Skalos said there are solutions for those types of anxiety cases starting with enrichment activities.
“Enrichment activities to keep their brains moving, things along those lines. For exercise, it’s really key, so before and after work burn off that energy, if they are too tired they are not going to want to have that energy to be destructive,” Dr. Skalos said.
If those do not work, Dr. Skalos recommends visiting your vet for supplements or prescription options for your pet to adjust to the change.