Coping With Pandemic Pet Anxiety

As the COVID-19 pandemic winds down and people spend more time outside of the home, our pets are taking notice. NBC's Sarah Dallof reports.

(NBC News) — It’s been almost a year since the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pets we’ve welcomed into our lives have grown very used to having us around. Perhaps too used to it.

Pet trainers are now in high demand, and not just for the basics.

Rendy Schuchat says her pet training business “Anything Is Pawzible” is seeing a spike in separation anxiety.

“Even dogs that had been in families for a really long time, we’re now discovering that if their human left for any reason, they were discovering that these dogs were not coping very well,” she says.

Those calls will likely increase as vaccine distribution expands and pet parents start getting out of the house more.

“If you can transition it slowly, that’s the best answer for it,” says Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Kratt suggests leaving pets alone for short periods initially, then gradually increasing that time.

You can also set them up for success with things like puzzle toys and treats.

“Treats are things that can keep our animals occupied while we’re gone,” he explains, “and there’s even some time feeders that can hook up to your phone over the internet.”

When you do get home, veterinarians suggest waiting a few minutes before engaging with your pet.

“That way it doesn’t make your return that big fanfare,” Dr. Kratt says.

Many are hopeful employers will consider new pet policies post-pandemic.

A survey from Banfield Pet Hospital found 57-percent of pet owners said they’d be most happy returning to the office if their pet can come too.

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