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Getting back to work
Our vet-approved guide to easing your pet back into a routine if you’re back at work,
whether they’re home alone or heading to the office.
It’s fair to say that lockdown was a challenging time, but the upside of staying home was spending quality time with our pets. Our furry companions have loved having us at their beck and call, with plenty of walks and cuddles thrown in.

As more people leave their homes to return to the office, we thought it would be a good time to run through ways we can reassure our pets. Dogs and cats can also suffer from separation anxiety when away from their pet parents, especially if they’ve gotten used to us being around, and so it’s worth considering a slow start with these handy tips.
The UK's dog population rose by more than 10 per cent under lockdown, with the number of dogs now totalling over 11 million.
Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 4th – 7th September 2020
Ways to support your pet when...
2. Taking them to the office
1. Leaving them at home
It may not seem a big deal to us, but separation anxiety is something to be conscious of as we start to leave our pets at home. Pets can’t understand our verbal reassurances and so may experience real distress if they’re very attached to us.
Preparing your pet
Preparation is key when it comes to introducing a new routine. It will roughly take a month for your pup to get used to the new normal, but this can depend on your circumstances. Some pets will adapt quickly while some will need more time and patience.

Slowly integrate new routines day by day to ease them in. If you usually walk your dog at a time when you’ll now be commuting, adjust that walk earlier on so they have time to get used to this new schedule.

Gradually leaving your pet alone for longer stretches will also help them get used to being on their own, even if that means leaving them in one room while you’re in another. Slowly increase this time and then gradually introduce leaving the house. We would suggest setting them up with a comfortable bed and blanket, allowing them to make themselves feel as safe and happy as possible, as well as a few toys to keep them entertained.
The signs of separation anxiety
Be sure to look for signs of stress when you start leaving them, these can include excessive panting, constant barking, general restlessness and biting furniture, while cats may start eating less and be more likely to urinate in antisocial places or defecate outside the litter tray. They might also start clawing at furniture and wallpaper. It's worth remembering that every animal will react in a different way, you shouldn't resort to punishing your dog if they start barking incessantly or scolding your cat if they take to plucking the furniture - it may be their way of letting you know that they're stressed. If any unusual behaviour continues then we would advise you seek the help of a professional, whether that's a word with your vet or a behaviourist for specialist advice. Our on-demand vet service is always available when you need support or guidance for anything pet-related.

If your cat or dog is still very unhappy, calming products might be a solution. There are several options to consider, whether that's a plug-in diffuser that releases reassuring pheromones or calming supplements that do the same. Different treatments are available in varying strengths depending on the help your pet needs and you can also discuss prescription treatments with your vet.
Doggy sitters, walkers and daycare
You may not feel comfortable leaving your pet alone for long stretches of time, especially after so many months of keeping them company. Luckily, there are lots or trustworthy sitters and services to lean on during this adjustment, even if it’s just during the initial transition. You may even have a neighbour who you trust to check in on your fur family during the day.
Products that can help
There are several convenient products designed to make your life easier and offer reassurance that your pet will be comfortable when you’re not home. Consider an automatic feeder to keep them fed or a microchip cat flap so they can come and go as they please.
2. Taking them to the office
The adjustment to leaving your pet home on their own may be too big, and so if the option is available to you, you may want to take your fur friend into the office with you. While this might seem like a stress-free solution, there are several factors to consider.

Mars Petcare’s research has found that 71 percent of Gen Z and 48 percent of millennial workers have asked or plan to ask their employers to implement a pet-friendly workplace policy.
What to do beforehand
It goes without saying that the first step should be to check with your employer if this is a legitimate option. Get that information immediately and be sure that everything is thoroughly approved by all the necessary parties. The next step is to check that it’s safe to do so. You should consult with your colleagues to ensure nobody has an allergy, fur and pet saliva can be tricky for some, and so this is a question you shouldn’t overlook.

As well as ensuring everyone in the office is comfortable with you bringing your pet in, it’s also wise to research their insurance policy, if your pet is covered and under what circumstances. Ensuring your dog is microchipped is also important, not only is it a legal requirement but if they escape or wander off, you’ll be able to be reunited quicker. You should also ensure your dog has an ID tag on their collar.
Get ready
Consider all elements of the office, including the commute - is your pet comfortable on public transport? Do you have the necessary accessories to safely drive them to the office? They might benefit from the occasional bus or tube journey to get them ready. You'll also need to factor in whether your pooch likes being around lots of people. Will being in a communal office be an overwhelming experience, and if so, do you have calming solutions to support them, and toys to keep them busy?
Look for the signs
To be as prepared as you can, consider a safe and comfortable space for your pet in the office. During the first few weeks they may need that space of refuge to keep them calm, with soft bedding and their favourite toys for reassurance. Another point to consider is how frequently you’ll be able to take them out on toilet breaks, and to be sure you have everything you need to hand, like poop bags. Establishing a routine earlier on will get them accustomed to a new timetable.
Products that can help
Keeping them occupied is top of the list, otherwise they’ll be hounding your colleagues for attention. Keep a good supply of toys and treats so they can keep themselves entertained and can easily be distracted if they’re on a mission to cause mayhem.
The new normal, in a nutshell
Every pet is different, and will respond differently to a new routine, whether that’s being on their own or snoozing and sniffing in a new environment. Let them take their time and be patient, it’s a big adjustment. Speak to your local vet about what you can do to help make life easier, they can offer some much needed reassurance and soon enough, the new normal will be the norm.
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