Do you notice a change in your pet’s behavior over the last few weeks?
Due to the coronavirus threat, pet owners are stuck working at home with their animal companions. Though this may be a good sign of spending more quality time with pets, this also changes everyone’s routine, which can be hard on pets.
“Getting into things they shouldn’t is a top phone call we’ve been receiving,” Dr. Heidi Sutcliffe, veterinarian from Norwell Veterinary Hospital, told WBZ-TV via FaceTime. “Surfing counters, getting into the trash, destructive behavior, pent up energy and not being able to settle down are all signs they may be stressed.”
Homes may be more hectic now that you are working from home, not what your pet is used to. Some animal companions may enjoy having more time with you, but not for others who long for space. Social distancing can also have a negative impact on them as they want interaction on a daily basis.
“Try to keep your routine as close as possible and be consistent with feeding schedules. It will provide them some structure,” Sutcliffe said. “They’re very in-tune to your behavior so if you can do your best to remain calm then your animal will as well.”
Sutcliffe recommends letting your pets play puzzle toys for mental stimulation. It would also be a good activity to play with them in your backyard.
“I think it’s very helpful to have that release during the day, to take your animal outdoors and go for a walk and get some fresh air,” she said. “I think animals are forcing us to do those things that we don’t get to do in a busy office space and it’s a valuable thing at the moment.”
Aside from spending time with your furry companions, Sutcliffe said it is important to spent at least an hour a day away from them too, or else they can develop separation anxiety.
“There’s a short window of time where puppies are socialized between 4 weeks to 5 months. We want to desensitize puppies to loud noises, different voices of people, thing in our environment,” she said. “What can you do at home is switch up the tone of your voice, stream some things on YouTube like sirens, high-pitched noises shake a blanket or place obstacles around the house and practice basic training. Keep social distancing, the puppy will be fine… but use some of these techniques to get them desensitized.”
If you get sick, the Norwell Veterinary Hospital also recommends selecting a family member, neighbor or friend who can take care of your pets if you get sick.
“Create a folder with what they eat and when, what medications do they take, what types of habits they have… so if you’re sick and need somebody to take over, that folder is ready,” they said. “Have two weeks worth of pet food and a 30-day supply of medication like heartworm, flea, and tick preventative. Make sure they are up to date on vaccinations.”
Sutcliffe added that pet owners should take this time to bond more with their animal companions and develop a deeper connection with them.