Curbing Our Pets’ Separation Anxiety as We Ease Out of Lockdown

Mark Thompson spoke with Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty plus years

With most states cracking the door open in hopes that we are beginning to get a handle on the coronavirus, many students are going back to school and people are or will be heading back to the office. But what of their pets, the furry friends who have become so accustomed to company this past year? Will their anxiety climb through the roof? Will owners come home to destroyed couches, drapes, and shoes, puddles on the floor, calls from angry neighbors complaining of constant howling, or, worse yet, an empty house because your pet has run away? These are all symptoms of separation anxiety, an anxiety that can be eased with the proper help.

14% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and it is the second leading cause of euthanasia by vets.
Signs your dog is suffering separation anxiety (best way to know if your dog is suffering is to watch them on camera or videotape them when you are away)

Prevention measures:

  1. Avoid elaborate goodbyes and hellos.
  2. Leave a food-filled treat in your absence.
  3. Avoid constant physical contact with your dog to encourage independence. Teach your dog to sit and stay in place and praise his calm behavior as you increase the distance between you, as well as the amount of time you spend being away. This helps him become independent and cope with being alone.
  4. Set a daily structure and practice it before you go back to work/school
  5. Try and make your pet more independent even when you are at home. Encourage them to spend time outside without you (if your yard is enclosed), in another room without you, sleep in their own bed, etc. Build up the length of time alone incrementally.
  6. Try desensitizing your dog by giving him departure clues, like putting on your coat, and playing with your car keys at times other than when you are going to leave. This helps your dog gradually gain self-confidence and become less dependent on you.
  7. Determine how much exercise your pet needs and schedule times before work/school to make sure they get that exercise

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM is an author and world-renowned integrative veterinarian of twenty plus years. After graduating from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Carol completed a prestigious internship at the Columbus Zoo. Shortly afterwards, she launched a very successful private practice and became founder and director of the non-profit organization, the American Pet Institute. Dr. Carol offers traditional veterinary care for dogs and cats with a softer, natural touch. Her approach highlights the importance of nutrition and utilizing holistic avenues in combination with traditional treatments.


Dr. Carol’s first two books, Naturally Healthy Cats and Naturally Healthy Dogs hit the international best seller lists. The multi-faceted Dr. Osborne is also an Emmy-nominated television journalist. She has gained national prominence through her frequent appearances on popular shows including Fox & Friends, The Today Show, Discovery’s Animal Planet, and Good Day LA, where she was the on-camera staff veterinarian.

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