Puppies bought during the early days of the pandemic could experience separation anxiety as owners return to office work, a Helensburgh vet says.

Helensburgh and Lomond residents are being urged to speak to their vet if their animals are showing behaviour changes.

Karen Murphy at Lomond Veterinary Clinic said people should consult their vet if their pets are showing changes in behaviour.

Experts say dogs can become very stressed and anxious when they are left alone for any length of time.

Karen' scomments echo concerns from the RSPCA, whose officials told MPs recently that they fear a rise in potentially dangerous behaviour changes.

Dr Samantha Gaines, head of companion animals at the charity, told MPs: "Operationally, we are seeing an increase in the more challenging dogs that are coming into our care, which we think is an impact of Covid.

"Based on the research we probably shouldn't think that we have actually seen the worst of it.

"And bearing in mind that the pandemic only happened in 2020 we probably still have some dogs who are developing and are yet to present those behaviour problems."

The Royal Veterinary College did research which found growing up in lockdown meant puppies were not socialised properly as there were fewer home visits.

Karen told the Advertiser: "The main issue we've seen with 'pandemic puppies' is a condition called separation anxiety, where dogs become very stressed and anxious when their owners have to leave them for any length of time.

"Many of these puppies were acquired when everyone was at home all the time, and they never had the opportunity to learn to be left alone.

"When people returned to work and school, and these dogs were left by themselves, they didn't know how to cope.

"Separation anxiety can manifest as behaviour like constant barking or howling, or destructive behaviours and house-soiling. It can worsen over time, and it can be very distressing for both pet and owner.

"Training and, in some cases, medication can help dogs to overcome separation anxiety, so it's always worth speaking to your veterinary surgeon if you are concerned."