Pet separation anxiety: You may see behavioral changes in your pet as you return to work

Americans aren't the only ones feeling anxiety as they head back to the office post-quarantine.

Their pets at home might be suffering from uneasiness with not having their owners around all day.

Experts say you might even be seeing your pet act out.

Veterinarian Dan Thomasey told ABC News that separation anxiety can have a big impact on a pet.

"If that routine is changed or altered, they can feel that," he said.

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Behavioral changes are a sign of stress.

"And a lot of them can be subtle where pets that are yawning, lip smacking, those are signs of anxiety and then more obvious ones shaking, shivering, pacing, panting," Thomasey said. "They can have urinary issues, they can pee and poop out of the litter box. Those are all things that can manifest that emotional stress into more of a physical thing."

That's what happened with Lucy when her owner, Jessica Barkan, went back to work.

"She bit through cardboard that I had out. She had put her little cat toy in the water and ruined her water," Barkan said. "She also refused to eat unless I was home watching her. So I noticed her breakfast wasn't eaten a lot in the beginning. They're like us, they have these emotions, they get attached."

Thomasey says there are steps pet owners can take to ease our furry friends into the new routine.

"Start giving them some time to get used to going longer between walks," he said. "Even though your home working, give them four to six hours instead of the two hours."

He also recommended: "Start leaving your house for a period of time. Go out for an hour or two and slowly increase that time rather than going to that full eight to 10 hours of you being out."

Some anxiety symptoms are minor but, if a pet is showing extreme signs that result in physical pain, talk to your vet.
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