Seven pet care tips for owners returning to work
As governments slowly relax novel coronavirus lockdown procedures, many pet owners are preparing to return to work outside the home.
To that end, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) encourages veterinarians to share key tips with customers to ensure the transition is as stress-free as possible for their pets.
“Dogs and cats are routine creatures and they have probably gotten very used to having us around the house all day during the pandemic. For pets that have been adopted in the past few months, this may be the only routine they have ever known, ”says Association President John Howe, DVM. “As more of us return to work and work regularly, we need to prepare our pets for this new routine.”
The following seven steps need to be shared with clients to ensure a smooth transition when they return to their pre-pandemic routines.
Introduce workflows slowly
Schedule waking, feeding, and walking as desired for your expected work day, then establish a consistent departure schedule based on that routine.
Don’t worry about your departure
Practice short trips daily and gradually increase the amount of time you are away. Give your pet a small treat when you walk out the door to condition them so they’ll be rewarding when they leave. If signs of fear (such as destructive activity) appear, do not punish the pet. Instead, cut the time short and slowly build up to longer periods of time. Keep calm when you leave or return home.
Before leaving home, play and play. Burning energy can help keep pets calm and relaxed. While the risk of infections in dogs and cats with COVID-19 is minimal, limit contact with people who live outside of your household (e.g. dog walkers, pet day carers). Cats should be kept indoors whenever possible.
Keep pets busy
Long-lasting treats, feeding puzzles, and automatic feeders can all keep dogs and cats busy during the day.
Create a safe space
If you’ve previously used a crate when you weren’t around but didn’t put your dog in a crate while working from home, now may be a good time to start researching whether you are not using a crate while you are away or reintroduce the box for a short time while you are still working from home.
Look out for signs of stress
Be aware of excessive barking or whining, restlessness, destructive behavior, and inadequate urination / bowel movements. If you are concerned, be sure to film your pets as they leave so you can better watch them and share the video with your veterinarian.
Talk to your veterinarian
Behavioral, stress, and wellbeing concerns may require consultation with a veterinary behaviorist and / or medical intervention.