Have you noticed a change in your pet’s behaviour during lockdown?
You are not alone!
With most of us now working or studying from home, this “new normal” is also applied to our pet’s and their routine. We have noticed a spike in clients mentioning a change in their pet’s behaviour and we understand it could be a direct link to the sudden and drastic changes due to COVID-19.
Our pets are also at risk of “emotional contagion” meaning – they feel what we feel. We know as animal lovers how receptive our pets are to us and our emotions. A 2019 study revealed the correlation between interspecific synchronisation in long and short term stress levels; finding higher cortisol level in owners matched raised levels in canine companions.
Signs of stress and anxiety in pets can vary dramatically but as veterinary medicine has evolved, we are now more attuned to identifying these symptoms. Along with physical signs of stress such as body posture, eye and ears changes there are many other subtle changes that may indicate stress in your pet. Pet’s can also be stressed due to pain or illness so we recommend a full health check with our team to ensure your pet has a clean bill of health.
Symptoms of stress in dogs can include;
- Restless or unsettled.
- Pacing or shaking.
- Vocalising such as whining or barking.
- Yawning, drooling, licking. This includes paw suckling and over-grooming.
- Shedding hair.
- Panting and or yawning excessively.
- Avoidance or displacement behaviour; when faced with an unwelcome situation dogs may “escape” by focusing on something else. If your dog avoids interaction with another dog or person, don’t force them to interact. They will on their own accord.
- Changes in sleeping habits.
- Inappropriate toileting.
Symptoms of stress in cats can include;
- Withdrawal and hiding.
- Less active.
- Vocalisation: excessive meowing.
- Loss of appetite and weight loss.
- Diarrhoea and or vomiting.
- Skin issues caused by over grooming.
- Inappropriate toileting (toileting outside litter tray) and or in unusual areas.
- Changes in sleeping habits.
Cats and dogs are habitual creatures. With being fed more, walked more and getting more attention, this is leaving little room left for their rest time. Cats can tend to find this disturbance to their routine more negatively than our doggy friends, as cats can be more territorial in nature.
Our aim is to reduce stress in our pets before they become extreme anxiety conditions such as separation anxiety. Conditions such as these may need regular veterinary visits, referral to a veterinary behaviourist and possibly life long medication.
What can you do to help?
First get your pet a health check and chat to our friendly vets and ensure your pet has no underlying health conditions.
Next chat to our friendly nurse team on a range of information that can help your cat or dog. There are amazing natural products now such as;
Pheromones: Adaptil and Feliway imitate cat and dog pheromones which can reduce or lessen signs of anxiety in the use of odourless sprays, collars and home diffusers. These products we always have in stock and can be bought over the counter. We use these products regularly for our patients and boarders.
For more info : https://www.adaptil.com/au
Natural Milk Proteins: Zylkene is a natural casein protein that again helps pets in their stress responses to changes in their environment. This is a capsule that can be taken short or long term. Again this can be bought over the counter from vet clinics only.
For more information:
Get to know the signs:
If you notice your pup starts barking when you pick up your keys, or your cat has started to furiously lick and groom their bottom area. Look for anything outside of your pet’s normal behaviour. This can be helpful in identifying a trigger.
I think every pet owner thinks their cat or dog has an internal body clock for DINNER! Be consistent in your feeding habits, the location and time. Sometimes even changing your pet’s bowls could be stress inducing. Cats can be more sensitive than dogs so be mindful. Something may not have changed directly in your house, but what about outside? The neighbours moving? New cat in town?
Keep on top of litter box and poop scoop cleaning too. As not having a clean area to toilet can also be stressful.
Make sure your pet has engaged toys to enjoy such as Kongs, Snuffle mats, Laser Pointer, Da Bird Chaser, toys that encourage their natural playing. Even old cardboard boxes, toilet roll holders, carrots can be great cheap toys. Playtime limits frustration, provides mental enrichment, physical exercise as well as balancing emotional balance.
Like we do, pets also need to rest. Senior pets over >7years age and our young pups and kittens need more rest than our adult pets. Provide a chill out zone, a comfy bed, a hidey hole, a soft blanket or towel in an area your pet naturally refers to. This should also be somewhere quiet and away from other household pets, so they have their own space. Pets safe heat packs can also be a addition in encouraging your pet to rest here.
Get extra support:
Ask us for some advice and we can direct you to further care such as veterinary behaviourists and or pet obedience and training.