COVID-19 and the care of our K9s

Jan 29, 2022 4:30:48 AM

For nearly a year now, this country has been living in, and adjusting to, a different way of life during the pandemic, but what has this meant for our pets, and our canine companions in particular?

Depending on how their owners’ lives have changed will indicate how much pets’ lifestyles and routines have changed. Depending on your dog’s personality, they may have struggled with changes to their daily routine or equally may have acclimatised very well and taken it all in their stride. When making any changes to your dog’s routine, it is important to consider their individual personalities and how they may cope with change, as it is best to avoid distress wherever possible.

There are several often-overlooked aspects of our pets’ lives that may have changed as a result of the pandemic:

  • Less socialisation on walks with other dogs. With our own social distancing measures in place, it has meant that owners meeting in groups for a walk is less likely, meaning dogs also do not get any time to socialise with other dogs.
  • Puppies and young dogs homed during the pandemic may be especially at risk of a lack of socialisation. We know that the first 12 months is a key period to develop social skills with other dogs and, if missed, can result in various behavioural
  • Walks may now be restricted to places immediately close to home due to travel restrictions, which may not provide the same variety of mental stimulation.
  • Owners spending more or less time at home can alter a pet’s routine such as timings of walks and feeding times.

If you have spent some extra time at home, your dog may have enjoyed the extra company, but they may then struggle when it is time for you to return to work. This is a difficult situation to overcome and may require the help of a professional such as a behaviourist or trainer. It, therefore, may be useful to consider this prior to your dog becoming stressed with the changes in their daily routine.

At the time, extra hours at home can appear very exciting for the pet, but when the time comes for the owner to return to work or they can no longer spend so much time at home, this may lead to varying degrees of separation anxiety. Below, we will explore several tips on how to avoid anxiety and stress associated with pets being left on their own.

  • Introduce time spent alone gradually so that they can get used to it and appreciate some quiet time without feeling like they have been ‘left alone’.
  • It may be useful to crate-train your dog. Make a comfortable, cosy place and more like a ‘den’ than somewhere they associate with bad behaviour or punishment.
  • Introduce enrichment activities to keep them busy whilst you are gone such as food puzzles, Kong toys and games. These keep the animal’s brain active for longer and releases endorphins or happy hormones which can distract them from feeling ‘alone’.
  • It may be an idea to consider a dog walker coming in to spend some time with your dog when you are not around, this will split their day up well if you are not able to return home.
  • A pet calming spray or plug-in diffuser can be very useful to help encourage a calm and relaxed dog rather than an anxious one.

YouTube is a great source for inspirational enrichment ideas. Here's one example to get you started:

Hopefully some of our tips will help you or your dog during the pandemic, however, if you have any further concerns about your dog, we would recommend contacting your veterinarian for further advice and guidance.

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