With the holiday season almost upon us, the RSPCA has issued advice on leaving your dog home alone, suggesting that many owners are still unaware of the potential risks.
By, 2 Dec 2019
The UK's largest animal charity issued the guidelines after a recent survey showed that over 20% of owners think it's OK to leave a pooch alone for more than a day.
Worryingly, an extra 39% confessed to leaving their furry friends without company for seven hours each day.
Experts from RSPCA are now reminding people that dogs are inherently social animals and should never be left alone for more than four hours at a time.
More extended periods of isolation can leave pooches feeling sad and lonely, significantly increasing their chances of developing mental health issues and behavioural problems.
The RSPCA asked people to look out for the signs of separation anxiety, which can often show around the holiday period as people spend more time visiting friends and relatives.
Dr Samantha Gaines is a dog welfare expert at the RSPCA. She said:
"Some dogs who suffer when they're left home alone may display quite obvious signs – such as barking, whining, toileting, or destroying things."
But not all signs of separation anxiety are visible. Dr Gaines continued:
"Others will simply sit there, suffering in silence, which means you may not know if there's a problem."
Even if your pooch appears happy enough, the charity recommends setting up a camera to see how they act when left alone.
What to look out for
As well as the obvious signs, owners should also look out for the more subtle symptoms of separation anxiety, including pacing, excessive licking and scratching, and any other compulsive behaviours.
Thankfully, there are several ways to help your dog deal with separation anxiety. Making a few changes to your daily routine can ensure your pet gets all the company they need, while other options include dog sitters, doggy daycare centres, and extra training.