Most families have been impacted greatly by the coronavirus pandemic and all of the associated changes. It’s easy to forget that our pets have been impacted as well.
Pets are wonderful at adjusting to their human’s routines, however, experts warn that it is difficult for many pets to adjust to their pet parents being around so much more than before. It may be easy to assume that dogs will want their human around as much as possible while cats want their alone time. However, experts note that this need for personal space is much more specific to your pet’s individual personality. Here are some tips to help recognize the signs of stress and help your best friend navigate these uncharted waters.
Watch for changes in level of activity. Many animals will display restlessness and pace back and forth. Other pets may stay in one place and seem very lethargic. Both of these extremes may indicate anxiousness and can easily be misinterpreted as a need for more attention rather than less.
Keep your ears open. Listen for higher pitch and more frequent barking from your dog or vocalization from your cat. These can be your pet displaying signs of distress or hypervigilance due to anxiety.
Keep an eye on body language and aggression. Some animals may feel stiffer to the touch or develop new obsessive behaviors, tics or spasms. For example they may over groom, bite themselves or lick their lips repeatedly. Some pets may show more aggression towards their owners in the form of nips or bites even when being handled or treated the same way as normal.
If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, don’t despair. This is a normal reaction to shifts in your pet’s family life. There are ways you can make this time a bit easier for your furry friend, however. Here are some tips to help your little one out.
Give your pet their own space. If they have a corner of your home that they spend time in, just let them choose to come out and mingle as they please. Remember, your pet is used to having 8 or 10 hours a day of down time while the family is at work and school. They may be happy to have a place where no one will interact with them until they are ready.
Stick to a routine. Your dog and cat thrive on routine. Things like when the family wakes up and scurries around, when the smell of food cooking fills the home, the hour before bed that the family sits together in front of the television or when they are walked and played with. Just like people, animals feel confident and comfortable when they know what to expect from day to day.
Finally, slowly reintroduce the change back to your regular routine. If you have been working from home and know that you’ll be going back soon, take a few steps to help your pet get ready too. Reinstitute the daily waking and feeding schedule that is their normal during the work week. Also, start leaving your pet at home for some errands and outings before you are gone for the entire day. This will help your pet to not be shocked when the door closes without them in tow.
Remember, pets and humans are great at adapting and overcoming changes and obstacles. Enjoy your family and your pets during this trying and unexpected time