Six-year-old Wil Price, and sister Tori, 5, playing with their dog Harley at their property in Seelands.
Six-year-old Wil Price, and sister Tori, 5, playing with their dog Harley at their property in Seelands. JoJo Newby

Pets howl end of holidays

SOME parents may cheer and start popping open bottles of champagne (in secret) as the school holidays come to an end, but for the family pet, the stress appears to be only just beginning.

As the kids trundle back into the classrooms, blissfully rejuvenated after many hours spent at home with their beloved animals, a leading veterinary surgeon from online pet supply retailer Vet Shop Australia is urging owners to be aware of the psychological impact the sudden change in routine can have on their pets.

Dr Mark Perissinotto says separation anxiety is a common condition that affects millions of cats and dogs worldwide each year, labelling the sudden changes in daily schedules as a major trigger for the condition.

"During the holidays our pets become accustomed to having everybody around and spending lots of time with their owners, which is why they can drastically suffer when it becomes time for them to be left home alone all day," he said.

"Separation anxiety may cause a pet to experience feelings of anxiousness when away from their owner, resulting in displays of extremely unwanted and unusual behaviour such as excessive grooming or licking, destructive behaviour, urinating, barking, howling, digging, loss of appetite and physical illness.

"To help anxious pets to stay calm when they are alone, leave boredom busting toys, freezing treats in ice, leave your pet with a friend, take dogs for a walk before you leave and practise desensitising them from sounds they relate to you leaving, such as the jingling of car keys.

"Distracting your pet can be one of the best ways to help them avoid separation anxiety. Leaving food and treats as you go is a great way to take their mind off things.

"For many, there is no stronger bond than the one between owner and pet and it is sad that this special bond can at times be the cause for pets to experience both physical and psychological problems, which is why pet owners must be aware and educated on how to tackle the problem."



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