Back To The Office: Supporting Stressed Pets During COVID Pet Care Tips 4 min read
As we plan on heading back to the office, all pet parents can think about is what we are going to do with our fur kids! Are they going to be okay alone again, after long periods of constant cuddles, and oodles of attention? As we make this transition, here are some tips on how you can support your pets and prevent them from becoming anxious and stressed as things change once more.
Tips for Dogs and Cats Staying Home Alone: Controlling Our Own Anxiety
For some pets, regular routines and some alone time are normal, so having that change to the sudden reality of 24/7 pet parent company at home could have been confusing. Now, going back again to “normal” might create some anxiety, and an increase in stress levels for you and your furkido.
To make matters worse, many of us humans are incredibly stressed right now. We’re worried about our health and that of our loved ones during the pandemic. While we may think we’re handling all that well, our pets will recognize our tension and anxiety — and may make it their own.
“You might think you’re internalizing everything, but what we know from studies on both humans and animals is that we are not. There’s physical manifestations that are probably even more obvious to our dogs and cats than ourselves,” said Dr. Dana Varble, the chief veterinary officer for the North American Veterinary Community.
So take some deep breaths, practice mindfulness
How Can I Tell If My Pet Is Stressed?
Every pet is different, so not every sign will apply to every dog or cat. Just like humans, pets will have different and unique thresholds for stress.
Stressed dogs can startle, jumping at the slightest sound or movement. Some shake and shiver, vocalize excessively or drool. They can use self-calming techniques, such as yawning, lip licking, excessive grooming or spinning.
Oddly, tense and upset dogs can also look depressed, showing a lack of appetite or energy. At times they can get diarrhea or urinate or defecate more often. And, of course, dogs can become uncharacteristically aggressive, snapping or growling.
Cats, on the other hand, are more difficult to read. The signs are subtle, such as overgrooming, increased vocalization, lack of appetite, hiding or acting standoffish, and suddenly ignoring their litter box.
While you should always check with your vet to make sure there’s no urinary infection, stress itself can cause significant problems.
How Can I Calm My Pets Down?
There are a few different ways you can try to calm down your pet and reduce their stress and anxiety for when you go back to the office. Here are a few tips:
Routine. The main solution is to stick to a regular regimen, just as you would do with a young child. Getting up at the same time, taking them for walks at their regular hours, feeding them at the same time as before, etc.
Use pet gates and crates. If a dog is crate trained, it can be very soothing for them to go back to their own special place. The use of baby and pet gates or barriers can also help keep pets in their own little zone.
Keep grooming and playing. Dogs need regular exercise and playtime with their owners. If you’re suddenly sitting on your couch all day instead, you’ll soon see the signs of distress in your pet. Cats, too, need daily play that mimics what they would do in the wild. Playing with toys such as feather spinners and puzzles that contain treats can energize cats and keep them happy. Hopefully, grooming is part of your regular routine as good health care for your dog or cat. When it comes to calming them down, if your cat likes to be brushed, that’s often a winner.
Check your litter box etiquette. Most cat owners already know they need to keep the litter boxes sparkling clean by scooping often. Cats are very sensitive to the type of litter (most like sandy or clay-based) and scent (they prefer no scent). The litter box should be big enough for the cat to turn around in — bigger is better — and there should be a litter box on every level of your home. The suggestion is to always have one more litter box than the total number of cats in the home. It’s also a good idea not to have a covering on a litter box, especially in multi-cat households, as cats feel most vulnerable while urinating or defecating.
Use positive, not negative reinforcement. Having a dog rip up clothing or paper or your cat starting to scratch the couch or either species offering a sudden “gift” of pee or poop may seem like a personal affront, but you should never take it personally. Your furkiddos may be experiencing severe anxiety, which results in these fear-based or anxiety-based behaviors. But it’s not some form of retribution against the owners. It’s because they’re experiencing a really heightened emotional state.
Positive reinforcement, such as providing treats when the cat does go in the litter box or the dog poops outside, is the best way to solve behavior problems.
Lesstress and Matricalm. They will naturally help keep your furkiddo calm and reduce anxiety. We recommend starting to give the supplements one to two weeks before you go back to the office so that their body has time to adjust.
We all know how delicate this moment is and as pet parents (and experts) we are here for you! These are just a few ways to help ease this transition back to the new normal, but please send us a message and we will help you with any other questions to support your furkiddos and pet parents all over the world.
Published: May 13, 2020