In the summer months, more families go on vacation than any other time of the year and to the pets of the over 164 million Americans that are pet owners, this can be a trying time in terms of separation anxiety.
From the second we bring our pets home, we begin building a lasting bond with them that will span the rest of their lives and often times, years after that as well.
The question when heading out on that family trip you’ve planned all year for is: what do we do about the pets? There are numerous factors that go into precautions you can take to make the time apart for your pet as comfortable as possible, things like: pet’s age, breed, allergies and tendencies all play a factor in determining the best course of action when leaving them home alone.
Is There a Helping Hand? Obviously the best option if it’s available is to find a relative or friend/neighbor that is willing and able to periodically check in on your pet while you’re gone, especially if it’s an extended period of time for a vacation. That way you can be sure that someone will be able to check that they have food, fresh water and will be able to let them outside if they need to go and to simply provide them with human interaction which is especially import for dogs and cats.
Have Enough Food on Hand- When you’re leaving on a vacation, it’s important to have plenty of everything your pet may need, especially food. If someone else is watching your pet for you, it can be tough to ensure that they know the proper food to get or where to get it from should they run out during your trip. Having extra food ready just in case will make it easier overall for anyone doing the pet sitting along with avoiding having to transition your pet’s food from one brand to another.
Not every pet is left alone just for family vacations though, in fact, a good portion of pets are left alone for hours each day while their owners go to work or school or other daily commitments. While the above tips can be a benefit, there are other circumstances to consider and things to look for when your pet will consistently be alone every day.
Tire Your Dog Out- Before leaving to start your day if you own a dog, one way to ensure that they will be ok while you’re out is to take them on a long walk or have a high-energy play session with them to help them get all that early morning energy out. It will keep them less likely to get anxious as the day goes on, as they will spend a majority of the time resting and relaxing.
Leave Them A Toy or Two- One of the most popular ways to keep a dog’s attention off of feeling separation anxiety while you’re gone is to leave them with one or two toys that will keep them engaged and occupied. Kong toys stuffed with either peanut butter or another type of paste that are frozen overnight make an engaging treat that stays frozen until you get home so no mess is made. More and more people are also choosing naturally shed deer or elk antlers, which are far less of a choking hazard than bully sticks while also being an easy to digest dental treat. The key with those is the marrow inside of the antlers, most dogs can’t resist it and the challenge of chewing through the reliably durable antlers will keep dogs entertained for hours.
Comfy Beds- Cats are far more independent and therefore far less likely to suffer from any separation anxiety while you’re out. The best thing you can do for them aside from having fresh water and dry food available to them is to make sure they have a comfortable bed or sleeping place that they can go to throughout the day. Most cats spend the majority of the day asleep as it is, especially during the hot summer months so the best way to keep them prepared for when you’re gone is to make sure there’s a cool, comfy place with their name on it.
Misc- If you’re the owner of a companion animal like a guinea pig, hamster or bird or even any reptiles, then there’s a wide range of ideal settings and situations to consider before leaving your pet home alone. Companion animals usually have unique to them guidelines and ideal care situations so be sure to research the pet that you have. Most websites for pets will provide care sheets for owners that give them optimal conditions and comfort suggestions to ensure that they’re taken care of properly every hour of the day.
Being a pet owner is an extremely rewarding experience but with full-time schedules and lives to lead, it can sometimes involving leaving them alone. It’s important before getting a new pet to make sure that you’re properly prepared for whatever they may need.