RALEIGH, N.C. — If you’re having mixed feelings about heading back into the office, you’re not alone. Many pets are having an even harder time being alone.

A recent poll by the ASPCA said one in five households got a dog or cat during the pandemic. But with people going back to work, it's more challenging to train and treat your pets.


What You Need to Know

Veterinarians are treating more dogs with anxiety during the pandemic

Vets recommend muzzle training your dog in case they have anxiety-induced aggression when heading to the vet

Trainers recommend keeping your dog in a confined area for periods of time to help get them adjusted to being alone


After a year of staying mostly with humans, veterinarian Una Stone says her dog, Jax, isn’t used to being out of the house.

She’s been making sure dogs and cats coming into her clinic are in the best shape for the last seven years, but she says this year has been different. 

“They’re more afraid, not used to leaving the house, or their parents leaving their side,” Stone said. “We're really having to go the extra mile to make them comfortable.”

Due to quarantine, she says she’s noticed it was harder for parents to socialize their dogs. Now, she’s seeing more animals with anxiety, sometimes causing aggression. That means veterinarians like Stone are having to muzzle more dogs in the office than ever before. 

“It can be difficult. We always try to make it as positive an experience as possible, but if they’re anxious, we can’t accomplish that in one visit. Sometimes we’re sending them home with medication beforehand to make them calmer when they come in. Sometimes we have to muzzle them for their safety and our safety,” Stone said.

Stone recommends dogs be socialized between 8 and 18 weeks old. If your dog has passed that age, there is still hope. That’s where trainer Monica Henderson steps in. 

“Depending on the dog and how he’s presenting, we’ll start with basic things, confidence-building exercises,” Henderson said.

Henderson said separation anxiety is one of the most common behavior disorders she sees. In the last few months, she’s been working with double the amount of dogs who are being brought in for it.

“At this point, their brains are wired. Sometimes things go awry, especially in pandemics when you can't socialize like you should. There’s a lot of times where vet intervention is needed to get medication on board,” Henderson said. “Dogs who developed anxiety, you need to desensitize them to people leaving. Put them in a confined area for a couple of seconds while the owner walks into other rooms. A lot of time we need professional intervention because it’s difficult for the owner.”