To help reduce separation anxiety and unwanted behaviour in pets, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is urging people to start preparing animals for a return to normal routines once COVID-19 subsides.
Just as staying home during COVID-19 was a difficult adjustment for many people, companion animals have also experienced changes in their daily lives. With people staying at home, many pets are spending more time with their families, going on more walks, and eating meals at different times. But what happens when people return to work and daily activities resume?
To help prevent separation anxiety and unwanted behaviours in your furry friends when your schedule returns to normal, the Ontario SPCA has these five tips for pet owners:
1. Create a consistent daily routine. If your pet only went on three walks per day before COVID-19, maintain that level so when you return to work, your pet doesn’t expect to go on 10 walks a day!
2. Mealtime is the most anticipated event of the day and should be given at roughly the same time daily. If your pet’s meal times have changed since you’ve been home more, slowly start to move the time back to when they would normally be fed.
3. Institute “nap time” or “quiet time” throughout the day. This should be a time for rest, away from you (not under the desk, or perhaps on it, in your home office) to help your pet adjust to more upcoming time alone.
4. Go outside for a few minutes and then return. Animals need to understand that you can leave, and you always come back. That will help reduce separation anxiety.
5. Provide self-entertaining toys, or chew toys, to encourage independent activities.
“Major lifestyle adjustments are challenging for all family members, including our furry friends. The easiest way to help your pet cope with these changes is to keep their routine consistent,” says Dave Wilson, Senior Director, Shelter Health & Wellness, Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. “Knowing what to expect, and when, gives our pets a sense of control in their environment and supports their emotional health.”
For more tips and resources on animal health and well-being, visit the Ontario SPCA website at ontariospca.ca
By Emily Cook