DR BARBARA FOUGEREBSc BVMS (Hons) MODT MHSc (Herb Med) BHSc (Comp Med) Grad Dip Herb Med, Grad Dip VCHM, Grad Dip VWHM, Grad Dip VA One of the most common categories of anxiety is Separation anxiety, and that refers to the anxiety your pet feels when you are not there. Although with Covid , the two legged animals in the family- might also suffer some separation anxiety when we go back into the world again. Dogs are meant to be part of a pack, which includes the humans in the family. So when they are left alone, a dog might accept the situation and rest all day or become anxious, whimpering, barking, howling, whining, panting, and even urinating or defecating inside the house. Other signs include refusing to eat, vomiting, diarrhoea, depression, drooling and excessive licking. The dog might even begin to destroy furniture or the garden in its frantic attempts to find its “pack”. And its that urgency and sense of panic that marks the difference between separation anxiety and poor house training, watchdog barking or playful destruction. It can be difficult to know if your dog has separation anxiety, although a webcam and recorder can help you check once you’ve left the house. Sometimes its a neighbour who alerts you somethings wrong, because they hear the barking. Cats can also suffer separation anxiety, though its far less common. But they can be upset when their human or best friend is gone. A cat with separation anxiety may be very clingy, following you around from room to room and when you head out the house, they might try and get between you and the door, or sulk and hide. They can also vocalise when they are alone, they can refuse to eat, pee inappropriately, develop urinary tract problems, over groom and become destructive. They can even vomit when you’re gone. Both cats and dogs will show over enthusiastic greeting when you get home. Which seems lovely, but is a warning that their behaviour might not be all that balanced. Its important to seek veterinary advice to make sure your pets behaviour isn’t due to an underlying problem. If no medical problems are found then enriching the environment, modifying behaviour and using natural supplements and pheromones or sprays can be very helpful. Remember to minimise the emotions between leaving the house and coming home. When you are focused 100% of the time on your pet, this can actually worsen the problem as the difference between that attention and then nothing creates a huge emotional gap. Prior to leaving and when you return home try to ignore the behaviour and not make eye contact, when the excitement settles, then reward calm behaviour with a short amount of equally calm attention. Minimal excitement. Enriching the environment can mean leaving a radio on, or the TV, providing a den or igloo and toys. If the behaviour persists despite all this it might be necessary for your vet to try medication or refer you to a specialist behaviourist. Now for human separation anxiety… a webcam and connecting to your pet through the day might help, take videos and pictures of your pets to show your work friends and count the minutes until your home!