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Pet Depression and Separation Anxiety
- By Ian White

Pets develop emotional bonds to their human owners and when separated from them, pets may suffer from depression and separation anxiety. There are times when it becomes necessary to be separated from a pet such as when having to be hospitalized or taking a vacation. As much as we may hate being away from a beloved pet, it may actually be a more stressful experience for the animal.

Most people develop comfort zones and tend to resist change because it disrupts their level of comfort even when the change is positive. Many of us don’t realize that our pets can and often do react in similar ways. They also have their own comfort zones and become closely bonded with the people within their home territory.

When separation occurs and the pet deeply misses those he is closest to, depression may set in. It is not uncommon for a pet to grieve itself to death when its owner dies. Pets can withdraw, become extremely quiet or in some cases even be a bit hostile when separated from the owner.

If separation is unavoidable, for instance, when the owner has to be admitted to the hospital, it is best to try and make arrangements for the pet to be kept by someone such as a friend or family member that the pet is familiar and comfortable with. That way the pet’s stay should be less stressful for both the pet and the owner.

Although many pet owners take their pets along with them on vacation, others may not choose to do so or perhaps cannot do so for various reasons. Those who do not take their pets along on vacation will need to find a reliable caretaker to look after their pet while they are gone.

Another option to consider is a house sitter. Pets are likely to be more comfortable in their owner’s absence if they remain in familiar surroundings rather than being transported to the home of a friend or relative. If possible, it may be a good idea to see if someone you trust and that your pet knows well enough to be comfortable with would be willing to be your house sitter in your absence.

Pets that become depressed when separated from their owners may refuse to eat or drink and may become lethargic. When there is a strong attachment between pet and owner even being separated for a short length of time can cause the pet a fair amount of anxiety. The stress caused by the separation can produce symptoms of physical illness.

If you must leave your pet with someone else during a planned absence such as a vacation, take your pet along with you for a visit to the person’s house that will be caring for the animal, several times in the weeks before you leave. This will give your pet an opportunity to inspect the house, become accustomed to the surroundings and also it will give the animal a chance to interact with the people and any pets in the home. It is better to give your pet a chance to get to know the place where he will be staying rather than abruptly moving him to a strange place at the last minute and then leaving him. It will make the transition easier and hopefully more pleasant for everyone involved.

Copyright 2006, Ian White Access 2000 Pty pty ltd

Author Ian White is founder of pet-sitters.biz Pet Sitting Directory.
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