Have you noticed your pet acting peculiarly during the pandemic? Your loyal companions are not the only ones who are adjusting to the new normal, explained Owen Jacques of ABC, a public news service in Australia. If you have an extroverted and jumpy dog, more time at home would entail more bonding time, but if you have a reserved and sleepy feline, they probably consider it a huge nightmare.
Kate Mornement, an applied animal behaviorist who helps owners stop their pets from doing unruly actions, stated that your pet is most likely reacting to the sudden changes in routine. "There's not as much space as they would normally have to get away and enjoy some peace and quiet,” she added.
Owners Found to Care More About Their Pet’s Health During the Quarantine
A survey by market research firm Wakefield Research on behalf of Banfield Pet Hospital, which provides the best preventive pet health care for one’s pets, involved 1,000 dog and cat owners between May 11th and May 15th, 2020. The report found that 84% of respondents said they have a better understanding of their pet’s health while 67% were planning new care procedures as a result, cited Tamara E. Holmes of Yahoo Finance, a media property that is part of Yahoo!’s network.
Some remote workers found it difficult to work from home, but others preferred this setup, with 20% of respondents admitting that they liked working with their pets by their side more than an office setting with their colleagues. 45% of the Banfield participants said they spend more time with their pet during quarantine, contributing to their household’s happiness while 39% said their pet aids in reducing their COVID-19-related anxiety.
33% said they currently feel more attuned to their pet than prior to the outbreak and 47% talked to their pets more than before the pandemic. 38% of respondents believed that their pets were happier before the pandemic while 35% said their pets are now more playful.
However, 73% were concerned about how their going back to the office may affect their pets. The survey revealed that 59% of respondents were concerned that their dog or cat may suffer from separation anxiety as soon as they go back to work. Some respondents made plans to make up for their frequent absences, with 47% saying they will spend more quality time with their pets when they are at home.
21% answered they will adjust their schedule so they can stay at home more often with their pets and 10% said they will adopt another pet so their animals will have company. Some owners have become more proactive about preventive health practices, with 44% reporting that they feel more responsible and attentive towards their pet. 42% were giving them more exercise than before, 37% said they have become more cognizant of their pet’s personal care (ex: dental health), and 20% planned to take their pets to the veterinarian more often for preventive care checkups.
How Do Cats and Dogs Adjust to the New Normal?
Dr. Mornement noted that cats tend to be more territorial and more negative about unexpected company. A cheerful dog might be more positive with all the attention and extra walks, as they associate them with their owners, she said. However, she warned that dogs could experience “separation anxiety.” Dr. Mornement said owners should keep that in mind and help transition to that change. Hence, it is crucial to return to a routine, even if you are at home, to let your pet know when they will be fed and be taken on walks. This will help them cope without attention for a period of time.
How Do I Help My Pets During and After Quarantine?
1. Be Patient
Stephanie Borns-Weil, head of the behavior service at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, reminded that pets need quiet time and boundaries, quoted Genvieve Rejewski of Tufts Now, a content and information hub for the university community.
“If you feel yourself getting angry with your pet, remember that they’re not trying to be naughty. Animals don’t know how to be vindictive,” she said. Your pets don’t know what triggers you and if they did, it’s by accident. They exhibit frustrating behaviors because they have no idea what’s going on. Your pets may also be trying to communicate an unmet need, Borns-Weil said.
2. Establish A Routine and Give Your Pets Some Space
Be consistent and clear with your pet’s routine. Avoid situations that may reinforce attention-seeking behavior. Before working in your home office, you can take your dog for a walk or give a toy so you can hold a proper Zoom meeting with your client, Borns-Weil suggested.
For pets, being surrounded by people can take a toll on their wellbeing, which would make your furry companions feel that they are always on call, explained Borns-Weil. For example, you can provide your dogs and cats with a beanbag bed, an open crate, a corner of the couch for your canine, or a window perch or chair back for your feline.
Ensure that their favorite spot is a place where no person in the household would bother them. Don’t let anyone pick up, move, feed, or pet your animals. Let your pets become more resilient and manage high levels of social interaction, Borns-Weil stated.
3. Create A Child-Safe Environment
For parents, they need to consider if their home environment is safe for their child. Don’t leave babies or small children alone with your pet. Ensure that your cat has elevated surfaces to jump onto to get out of reach of your child. You can also install a gate to keep your little one away from the dog’s feeding area and resting place to avoid bites.
4. Plan for A Gradual Return to Normal
If your cat loves your company because you are at home all the time, it may start to experience separation anxiety once you go back to work, Borns-Weil acknowledged. To help your pet transition to the post-pandemic norm, you can go for a drive or walk or do safe activities that do not involve pets.
This way, your pets can retain their ability to entertain themselves and enjoy some alone time. Stay-at-home orders are tough but Borns-Weil reflected, “I think we’ll come out of this with a much deeper sense of empathy for what our animals go through when we leave them locked in a house alone all day.”
Stay-at-home orders may prompt owners to be more attuned to their pet’s needs than before. Changes in routine should be made gradually to help them transition to the new normal. Pets may exhibit strange behavior so owners need to exercise more patience when taking care of them.