FANWOOD, NJ – The meme of competing cat and dog editorials in which the cat writes America Needs to Get Back to Work, and a dog writes Why Not Work from Home Forever? has made its way around the internet and caused a few chuckles along the way.

But how are cats and dogs responding to the COVID-19 lockdown and having their owners around 24/7? Is Kitty freaking out because everyone is around while Rover rolls over to play? And how will they react when (hopefully) the adults go back to work and the kids go back to school one day.

Several articles have appeared that suggest steps that owners can take to prevent separation anxiety in their pets. In a column that ran in Business Insider, Shoshi Parks writes that separation anxiety is one of the most challenging behavior disorders for dogs – and their families – to overcome and provides tips for saving Fido’s sanity.

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Canine sufferers don’t just dislike being away from their humans; they experience full-blown panic attacks when left alone. During an episode, a dog may bark or howl nonstop, destroy the home, especially points of entry and exit, have accidents, and exhibit a variety of other stress-induced behaviors. – Shoshi Parks, Business Insider

Among the advice mentioned in the article is gradually using small absences that start to teach the dog that absences are safe. In extreme cases, anti-anxiety medicines can be prescribed.

TAPintoSPF asked an expert, Dr. David Frantz of the Fanwood Animal Hospital (70 South Ave., Fanwood), if cats are showing signs of stress with lots of humans around and if he expects numerous cases of dogs with separation anxiety.

“It’s a kind of joke that’s out there, but we haven’t had a rash of anxious cats,” said Dr. Frantz. “We do have some that show signs of anxiety, but it wouldn’t be honest to say we have seen a jump.”

Dr. Frantz did say there is a lot of truth that dogs love having their owners around.

“Dogs are much more social creatures and more attached. Cats are attached in a different kind of way,” Dr. Frantz said. “Most dogs will go back to normal although there might be a little hiccup in behavior.  There will be a subset of dogs that will have social anxiety once all the togetherness ends.”

Building separation periods during the day isn’t really necessary, according to Dr. Frantz.

“I think the majority of dogs will be fine. For ones that have separation anxiety, building up time apart is  potentially helpful,” Dr. Frantz said. “However, some dogs who have not exhibited behavior related to separation anxiety before, might develop it after becoming accustomed to having a house full and then all of a sudden everyone disappears.”

“A few will have some issues, but dogs are pretty resilient,” Dr. Frantz added. “It’s a fact of modern life; most dogs are alone a large part of the time. That’s a reality in the modern world. Some do have separation anxiety. Would they prefer to have their owners around? Yes, they would.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Fanwood Animal Hospital has continued to treat pets. The veterinarian group has reduced our services. For instance, they are not doing routine spays and neuters and vaccinations. However, Dr. Frantz and his fellow veterinarians are still taking care of sick pets, although the owners do not come inside with them.

“We’re not allowing people in the building. They wait in their cars, and we bring the pet inside to treat them,” Dr. Frantz said.

With the COVID-19 disruption in business practices, Dr. Frantz still continues to process of opening up in a new building across the street from his current location.

“It’s a weird time to open up (something new), and it has taken a long time. About two and a half years ago, we realized we were outgrowing our space. Our building has been an animal hospital since 1947, and it only has two examination rooms,” Dr. Frantz said. “We have three doctors currently and a fourth doctor coming in June to join us. We ran out of room to do our work.”

The original plan was to knock down the existing building and rent a facility until the hospital was rebuilt. A building on South Avenue went on the market as he was looking to lease a space. Buying it enabled him to continue treating animals while the construction began at the new location.

The new Fanwood Animal Hospital is expected to open in two weeks on Monday, May 18. Sometime thereafter, he will hold a ribbon-cutting with town officials to celebrate the new space.

Services offered at Fanwood Animal Hospital include pet vaccinations, spay and neutering, dental care/oral hygiene, taking care of parasites, pet emergencies, micro-chipping, and veterinary surgery.

Fanwood Animal Hospital
70 South Ave.
Fanwood, NJ 07023