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Avoiding Pet Anxiety as You Head Back to Work

KMOX News Radio St. Louis logo KMOX News Radio St. Louis 5/11/2021 Maria Keena
a dog wearing a costume: Humane Society of Missouri © Provided by KMOX News Radio St. Louis Humane Society of Missouri

St. LOUIS - (KMOX) As Covid 19 restrictions ease, you might be heading back to work, or doing more things away from home without your furry four-legged companion.

But for pets, who’ve spent all these months by your side for the majority of each day, a return to “normal” might be something they’re not ready for, or understand, and that can lead to separation anxiety.

The Humane Society of Missouri and its Animal Medical Center of Mid America have five tips to make that transition a little easier and manage your pet's anxiety.

Create a Quiet Space. Just like us, pets need a quiet space to relax. Create a special area for your pet such as a designated room where they can lie down or a crate with a comfortable bed. To add to their comfort, gather toys that can give your pet something to do while you’re away, like those that can be stuffed with treats.  

Practice Your Normal Routine. Before you have to leave home, spend a few days or even weeks going through your normal routine, so your pets get familiar to the sounds and movements. Start by grabbing your keys, putting your jacket on, and turning the door handle. But don’t actually leave. Instead, sit on the couch or do something calm and quiet. While this may seem silly, preparing your pet to watch you leave and having them stay calm when you do can be beneficial for their mental state.

Start with Small Trips. Put your pet in their relaxing space and then go for a short walk or run a quick errand lasting roughly an hour. These short trips will help your pet get adjusted to being alone again for the duration of a full workday. When you return home, greet your pet and let them out of the crate or room while remaining calm and ignoring behaviors such as jumping, pacing or whining. Ignoring these will ensure you are not accidentally reinforcing your pet’s stress and anxiety.

Consider Pheromones or Probiotics. You know your pet better than anyone.

If you think your pet will be anxious without you, it pays to be proactive. Over-the-counter pheromones and probiotics have been scientifically shown to reduce anxiety in pets. However, these can take up to a month to be effective. If you think your pet will be anxious without you, start using these products right away.

Talk to a Vet. Even if you follow these tips, there are some pets who are just naturally nervous without their owners around and may need a prescription medication to stay safe. Talk to your veterinarian or make an appointment at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America to see if your pet is a candidate for pharmaceuticals. Do not give your pet medications or supplements without speaking with your veterinarian first.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at two locations in St. Louis City and Maryland Heights who can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or visit


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