(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)
As states ease COVID-19 restrictions and people get out of the house to return to work, pets around the country may see their daily routines of hanging out with everyone come to an end.
Some dogs and cats handle routine changes easily. For others, a routine change at home can cause behavior issues, nervousness or separation anxiety.
A Suzy survey of 5,000 U.S. pet owners found nearly 70% of respondents are concerned their pets will have new or additional anxiety when they return to work. It’s important to prepare pets for changes in routine, especially those that are new to a home, for their well-being and harmony of the whole family.
Consider these post-quarantine transition tips.
Make a Plan
The key to any plan is making sure everyone knows what to do. This goes for veteran pet owners and the owners of more than 221,000 new pets adopted or fostered since March, according to the 24Pet ShelterWatch Report. Pet owners should agree on the plan for their pets and details should be shared with children who help with care.
“Pet owners should make a plan with minimal and realistic changes to help their dogs or cats adapt to new routines,” said veterinarian Elizabeth DeLomba, MBA, senior veterinary services consultant at VetriScience Laboratories. “Start by offering your pets belongings that make them feel safe and comfortable and add small things that promote mental and physical stimulation.”
Practice the New Routine
Ease your pet into being alone by spending short periods of time away from him or her both in and outside the home and work your way up to hours of separation.
Use practice time to get your dog or cat used to what happens before you leave for work, comfortable with a crate or other safe space and acquainted with a new toy, treat or someone who will check on him or her during the day.
Before you leave, take your pet for a walk or play at home to get energy out prior to your departure. When it is time to leave, don’t make a big deal out of leaving. Say goodbye long before you leave then leave calmly.
Try a Calming Supplement
The survey revealed that 65% of respondents plan to use a nutritional supplement to help their dog or cat cope with any anxiety a new routine brings. Over the counter calming supplements like VetriScience Composure chews can help pets relax during stressful times without changing their personality or energy level. Calming supplements come in bite-size chews or a liquid dosage and can help relieve stress for dogs and cats of all breeds and sizes.
“Fear and anxiety disorders affect 23 million dogs in the U.S. alone,” DeLomba said. “Supplements may offer a convenient approach for managing separation anxiety and other behavioral issues. The ingredients in supplements work together to make a positive impact on behavior and anxiousness, which results in a calmer, more focused pet.”
Keep Them Stimulated
Don’t let your dog or cat feel bored when home alone. Play music, keep a television on or use a white noise machine to create some constant sound. If your pet isn’t into watching television, keep him or her busy with a treat-dispensing toy that requires some work. Or stuff a toy with peanut butter, freeze it and give it to your dog when you leave. These ideas can help keep your pet’s mind stimulated and encourage him or her to focus on something other than being alone.
Start thinking about a plan for your pet and ask your veterinarian if you have concerns about behavioral changes. Learn more and find the full survey results at vetriscience.com.
— PRNewswire/Family Features
(For more information on pets and animal adoption, please visit www.petconnectionprogramsinc.com. Or, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PetConnectionProgramsinc. Located in Marilla, N.Y., Pet Connection Programs Inc. is a nonprofit maternity and special care shelter founded in 1984.)