Managing your pets’ stress during and after Covid-19 lockdown

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Covid-19 has changed the work and school lifestyle for many, with more people in their homes over a longer period of time. This change in lifestyle has brought joy to many pets with constant companionship, but also increased stress on others with no break from the busy household. The common factor between both these types of animals is stress with change, but there are things that can be done to reduce the effect.

Animals that are enjoying having increased company during the lockdown may display signs of stress when there is an abrupt change and people are back at work and school, leaving them home alone. These pets can show signs of separation anxiety, and destructive behaviours. Pre-emptive management of separation anxiety now can lessen the impact, and destructive tendencies.

Ways to help reduce the effects of separation anxiety include:

  • Allocating some time each day where your pet is separate from you, either in their kennel or shut out of your office.
  • Weaning yourself back to working in the office, consider alternating days working from home and working offsite.
  • Increase mental stimulation for your pet, so they do not become bored and dependant on you. Levin and Horowhenua Vets have great toys to keep them occupied.
  • Consider synthetic pheromone diffusers/collars to help reduce the stress level, Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats.
  • If you are concerned your pet is likely to display significant separation anxiety or has done in the past, contact us now. Some cases require prescription medication, but this takes some time to become effective, so early treatment is best. Our telemedicine veterinarian can advice the best management for your pet.

Cats that are showing stress during the lockdown, can be seen urinating small amounts often in the litter tray, doing inappropriate urination/ spraying in the house, displaying restlessness, and an increase in avoidance behaviour. It is important to check that your cat is passing urine if they are going to the litter tray frequently, as a blocked bladder (normally in male cats) is life threatening.

Ways to help reduce the stress from people being home during lockdown include:

  • Ensuring your pet has their own space, where they can go and not be interrupted.
  • Ensure there are sufficient resources (litter trays and food bowls) for the number of pets in the household, and they are in quiet areas.
  • Consider synthetic pheromone diffusers/collars to help reduce the stress level, Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats.
  • Consider specific prescription diets designed to help with stress in cats. Our telemedicine vet can advice on the best diet for your pet.

The team at Levin and Horowhenua Veterinary Centre has been busy working throughout the lockdown as an essential service, providing care on emergency and urgent cases. As the Covid-19 alert level changes, the services we can provide are able to change. However, the health of our team and community is important, so you will still see changes in how we operate while providing the best care we can for our patients. We appreciate your patience and ongoing support through this challenging time, and look forward to seeing you again in the future.