Tips to help ease separation anxiety for pets adopted during COVID-19

By Dr. Leigh Hofmeister, DVM |

As an unexpected consequence of the quarantining and social distancing, pet adoptions in the U.S. have increased dramatically since COVID-19 hit our shores.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports as much as a 200 percent increase in applications to foster and/or adopt dogs and cats in some areas of the country.

COVID-19 has created some unique challenges for those who added a “pandemic pet” to their family during the crisis. There’s an emotional link between people and their pets, and this may be exacerbated during the stay-at-home requirements.

Rocco is a 13-year-old male mixed breed available for adoption. Visit Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League’s website at for more information. [Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League]

Pets adopted during the pandemic bask in the attention they receive while their new families are sheltering in place. However, as businesses begin to reopen and people resume their everyday lives, these pets will likely be spending more time alone, and may act out as a result.

Veterinarians want to make sure pet owners know how to best handle separation anxiety when the time comes for them to return to jobs and activities outside the home.

I counsel pet parents about ways to make separation anxiety easier:

Wake up earlier than normal to spend time with your pet before you head out for the day.  Go for a walk or play a game of fetch.

Exercise your pet daily. As the weather warms up, go outside in the early morning and again in the early evening when the weather is cooler, rather than during the hotter parts of the day. 

Take advantage of pet daycare centers. This is a great way to socialize your pandemic puppy and keep him or her exercising and interacting with other dogs while you are away.

Hire a pet sitter. Plenty of college and high school kids are home and looking for summer jobs. Have them come by, play laser tag with your cat, scoop the litter box and take your pet for a walk.

If your business is opening up gradually, you may have a chance to ease your pet into the new schedule. Try to leave him or her alone for a few hours each day. For example, you might eat your lunch outside or take your conference call in your car a block away. Pets need to get used to being by themselves inside the home.

Make sure you leave your pet’s favorite toys out to allow for entertainment. Particularly with young puppies, toys give them something to chew on rather than shoes or furniture.

First-time pet parents who adopt during the COVID-19 pandemic may be unfamiliar with preventative measures to keep pets healthy. With the stay-at-home restrictions lifting, now is a great time to bring your pet to a veterinarian for a check-up, especially if you were unable to do so during the quarantine.

While periodic grooming will keep your new pet happy, preventative veterinary care will keep them healthy.

Annual shots for disease prevention are a must and with the summer months ahead, measures must be implemented to keep your pet, and, in turn, your family safe from tick and flea infestations.

The best way to do this is with a product that repels and kills fleas , such as Provecta Adavanced for dogs, Provecta for cats, Advantage, Advantage II for cats and K-9 Advantix.

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