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Headshot - Karren Prost

Karren Prost

Companion Animal Veterinary Services Manager

Life in a pandemic can give dogs separation anxiety. Pheromones can relieve stress and help dogs readjust to their pre-pandemic schedules.


The pandemic has brought unprecedented change to just about everyone on the planet. Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing have altered the way we live our lives. As it turns out, your canine companion has been affected by these restrictions, too.

It’s believed that most dogs have been happy having their owners at home more often. While this is true for some, many dogs reacted negatively to the change in their social schedules – less socializing with other dogs, people, and places. “Dogs are stressed because there’s been a change in routine,” says Dr. Karren Prost, Companion Animal Veterinary Services Manager at Ceva Animal Health Canada. “Some studies are showing that many dogs are demonstrating behavioural changes consistent with stress. Some behaviours have actually worsened, including difficulties with being left home alone, increased fear of noises, and more vocalization.” As a result, dogs can be more anxious or stressed, and it can affect their quality of life.

Tackling separation anxiety head on

Many dogs are being left home alone less frequently during the pandemic, and they are spending more time with the adults or children in the home. This has resulted in more dogs experiencing separation anxiety from their owners. When left alone, dogs may chew household items, lose control of their bladders, destroy rooms, or even injure themselves. Severe cases may require veterinarian guidance and medication. Veterinary behaviorists are expressing concern that a sudden disruption or change in schedule as owners return to work will leave many pets unprepared for being home alone and develop separation anxiety.

There are ways to help your furry friend prepare for a smooth transition back to life before COVID-19. “You want to slowly get them used to being alone, slowly increasing the amount of time you leave your home” says Dr. Prost. This should be done after consulting with your veterinarian to rule out medical conditions that may be contributing to this behaviour, and determine if medications may be necessary. Leave their favourite toys or treats to distract them, turn on the radio to help them feel a sense of normalcy. The most important part, though, is an owner’s leaving and returning. “You want to keep it low key,” Dr. Prost adds. “When leaving home, resist the temptation to make it a big event. When returning home, stay relaxed, and wait until the dog has calmed down before greeting or giving them attention.”

Pheromones are helpful in alleviating anxiety

Ultimately, the best way to mitigate your dog’s anxiety is by understanding the vital role pheromones play in canine health. “Pheromones are messages that influence animals’ behaviour and emotional state,” says Dr. Prost. “They help members of a species communicate with each other.” Dogs innately react to pheromones. This is why ADAPTIL products are scientifically proven to work, and recommended by veterinarians across Canada.

ADAPTIL works by releasing synthetic copies of appeasing pheromones into the air. “It’s a version of the pheromone released by mother dogs to make their puppies feel safe, and decrease their stress and anxiety,” Karren says. “We have found that dogs of all ages respond very positively to these messages.”

Created by Ceva Animal Health Canada, ADAPTIL has products to help your dog readjust to normal life. ADAPTIL’s Calm On-the-Go Collar can keep your dog relaxed when reintroducing them to social settings. For car rides or checkups, use ADAPTIL’s Transport Spray. And to re-acquaint your dog with being home alone, use the ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser and Refill. When the time comes, be equipped to help your beloved companion transition back to a regular, full life.

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