The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty amongst households. People are becoming stressed and anxious with the prospect of a further lockdown and this stress is affecting our pets also. Changes to routine and with more people working from home, pets are starting to feel anxious and their behaviour and mental well being could potentially change if owners are not careful how they handle their stress levels at home.
Increased stress at home can lead to changes in behaviour and this, in turn, will cause stress for owners. Many different changes could have an impact on your pet during this time, which include:
- More noise than usual in the house
- Changes to your pets routine, such as when they walk and feeding time
- Everyone in the family is at home at the same time all-day
- More interaction with your pets than usual or less interaction than usual
- Reduced exercise for dogs and the ability to run free off the lead and play with other dogs
Warning signs your pet may be anxious:
- Barking or showing aggression to family members
- Less active than normal
- No interest in playing
- Hiding away and not wanting to interact
- Changes to sleeping habits. Sleeping more or less than normal
- Changes to eating habits, eating more of less than normal
To help keep your pets from becoming affected by the stress levels at home there are some positive steps you can do, which include:
Consistency is key
When interacting with your pets you must keep it consistent. All family members should respect your pets area and levels of interacting throughout the day. Also, your pet should be allowed to roam where they would normally roam and this works the opposite way too, just because everyone is at home shouldn't mean your pet has access to all areas if this wasn’t allowed before. Keep everything consistent.
Stick to a daily routine
Some pets get anxious when their routine changes. Try to stick to their existing daily routine as best as possible, such as feeding times and walking time.
Provide access to a safe place
Create a safe place or den for your pet to seek refuge should the household become too noisy and they’re feeling overwhelmed. Brief all family members to leave the pet alone should they retreat to their safe place. They’re probably most likely wanting rest and some downtime.
Prevent overwhelming your pet
Pets are used to having the house all to themselves throughout the day and they’re not used to so much interaction from your or family members. Some pets prefer less interaction and closeness than others. With more people being at home, everyone must respect the privacy and downtime of their pets.
Prepare for going back to work
This is the golden question, when will we go back to work? When will the restrictions be lifted? Unfortunately, no one knows and with that, you must prepare your pet for when you do eventually go back to work. This will help prevent separation anxiety for when you do go back to the office. You can do this by giving your pet some space and working in a different room for a few hours so they get used to being on their own.
Lastly, if you notice any unusual behaviour from your pet, you must contact your veterinary practice as soon as possible. Vets can talk to you over the phone and provide appointments or advice when necessary.