Pet Separation When Moving To A New Place
As many long-term pet owners know, spending time away from your pets can be difficult for humans and animals alike. Seniors often have to cope with pet separation when they are no longer able to care for a pet on their own; depending on circumstances, you may or may not be able to maintain the relationship afterward. It can be hard to let pets go, as you share a familial bond with them, and caring for pets has significant mental health benefits for seniors in particular. However, there are ways to reconcile yourself to the split and still have animals in your life. This article explains how to tell when pet separation is necessary, how to arrange it, and how to cope with it.
When Pet Separation is Necessary
Pet separation is necessary when it is overall beneficial to both you and your pet –typically when caring for them adversely affects your health, and thus theirs. Declining memory, mobility, and energy can all make it difficult to continue caring for pets (especially dogs and cats) as they need. Conversely, it can be difficult to see when separation is necessary because of the emotional problems it may pose to either party. However, difficulty feeding pets, exercising them, cleaning up after them, and/or arranging veterinarian appointments are all signs that is time to let each other go.
You might also have to give up your pet if you are moving into a care facility that does not allow them. Many assisted living facilities and senior communities do allow pets, sometimes with particular standards about handling them, and in any case, will clarify their rules long before your move. If you feel that pet separation would significantly impact your or your pet’s quality of life, then pet ownership can become a major factor in determining which facility you choose in advance. As other types of care facilities such as nursing homes do not allow pets, moving into one necessitates pet separation. If you stay in the hospital or other temporary care facility, local shelters, and humane societies may provide temporary fostering services.
Dogs in particular often suffer separation anxiety before and after the separation. The condition typically manifests in the form of frequent chewing, pacing, house soiling, barking, and howling. While significantly rarer, other pets such as cats can also show disruptive and destructive symptoms of separation anxiety. Pets might respond this way because they sense that you have physical and mental difficulties continuing to take care of them –signaling it is time to let them go after getting their behavior under control. The next section of this article will explain how to deal with a pet’s separation anxiety and know where they should go.
Making Pet Separation Arrangements
No matter which arrangement you choose, you should ease your pet out of separation anxiety before letting them go. If you take your dog on a walk and give them food and water before leaving your home, without otherwise interacting with them upon your return, they will eventually associate your absence with their relaxed, post-walk state. Gradually doing this over extended periods can reconcile them to a permanent absence. If your separation arrangement involves a loved one taking care of your pet, they can reconcile your pet to the change by bonding with them beforehand. If all else fails, professional trainers can skillfully help your pet adapt.
Depending on your options, your separation arrangement might involve little to no actual separation. If you only have partial difficulties taking care of your pet and your living situation permits it, you can keep them by bringing in a helper. For instance, you can hire a dog walker or have a loved one come over to take care of a cat’s food and litterbox. Occasionally, assisted living facilities will provide resources themselves. In the event that pet separation is necessary, most seniors ask family and friends to take in their pet; even if your loved ones are not used to the animal, some may be willing to try or direct you to someone else who can help.
If no one you know can take in your pet, shelters and rescue organizations can be very helpful in finding them a new home. They will screen applicants and pets carefully to make good matches, and you have the option of being involved in the process to gain closure regarding the separation. The next section of this article will explain how to overcome sadness about pet separation.
Moving on from Pet Separation
Seniors often feel guilty about pet separation, even to the point of it severely impacting their mental health. It is important to remember that animals can eventually move on; as mentioned, even old dogs can be trained out of separation anxiety and bond with new owners. Reaching out to loved ones during the process of pet separation will help you gain closure and trust that your friend is receiving the love and attention they need.
A major advantage of leaving pets with loved ones is the chance to visit them. You can continue to enjoy their company while also seeing that they have adjusted to the change. Some shelters and rescue organizations can also arrange visitation before and after adoption, for similar closure. If you still find that missing animal companionship is negatively impacting your mental health, there are other ways to see animals without caring for them. Many care facilities offer pet therapy, where volunteers will bring cats and dogs to interact with residents. Alternatively, caring for a lower-maintenance pet may keep you happy and your schedule organized.
Interacting with animals, especially in old age, can be a major help in alleviating loneliness, avoiding depression, and keeping your schedule organized. It is important to know that pet separation does not end this help, and you and your pet can be happy again afterward. With the right amount of time and support from loved ones, your pet separation arrangement can go as smoothly as possible.
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