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Helping Pets Handle The
End Of Lockdown
Advice for owners on how to deal
with seperation anxiety

Advice for the new normal

Many of us have been confined to our houses for three months now and for the majority of pets, having their owners home all of the time has been a dream come true! Now, as we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, with lockdowns eased and more workplaces opened, it’s important you get your pets prepared for seeing less of you. In this blog we discuss how to get your pet ready for lockdown and give you some tips to keep their separation anxieties in check.

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If you think that your pet is struggling to come to terms with seeing you less post lockdown and you’ve tried all of the things in this blog, book an appointment today.

Reintroducing a routine

The sudden implementation of the lockdown led to an abrupt change in our daily routines. Just like humans, animals tend to find changes to routine stressful and worrying. Now that we are emerging from lockdown, it will take all of us time to readjust to our previous routines, and our pets are no exception to this.

You should try to reinstate a ‘normal’ routine as much as possible for your pet before you return to work and other activities. For example, if your pet has become accustomed to late nights and lie-ins, you should try to gradually revert to your previous times for getting up and going to bed – this will also be helpful for you in preparing to go back to work!

If you are working at home, try to start and finish your day at the same time everyday where possible and keep breaks to a similar time – a predictable schedule will help your pet settle, and is also good for your own wellbeing.

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Knutsford Vets are on hand to support you post lockdown with all of your pet’s healthcare needs.

Dogs

One of the biggest challenges that will face some dogs when life returns to ‘normal’ is separation anxiety. This is where dogs become anxious when they have to spend time away from their owner, and may exhibit behaviour such as barking or whining, chewing or destroying furniture and going to the toilet indoors.

As dogs get older, they tend to learn that when we leave the house, we will come back, and so in most dogs separation anxiety eases as they get older. However, after spending a few months in lockdown with you at home, some dogs may take a while to remember that when you leave you aren’t gone forever!

Here are some ideas on how you can help your dog beat separation anxiety.

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Help them to become more independent

One way you can do this is to make your dog spend a little time alone each day and gradually increase the time spent apart. You could try putting them in a seperate room to you with something fun to play with to keep their mind occupied – toys that dispense food or treats can offer a welcome distraction.

Start with a small amount of time (around 5-10 minutes) so that the process is as stress free as possible. Also, do not make a big fuss of your dog when you leave or return, reassuring them that it is not a big deal to spend time away from you. Eventually, you could start going for walks without your dog

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Help them to form relationships with other people

As you have been spending more time with your dog, and in some cases have been the only person your dog has seen for the past few months, your dog may be very excited or perhaps a little apprehensive when they start to meet other people again.

If you live with other people, you should start to share the care of your dog with them before you return to work (e.g. walking, feeding and playtime) so that your dog feels secure around them even when you are not there. If you plan to return to using a dog walker or other friend/family member to care for your dog whilst you are at work, it is a good idea for you to arrange the first couple of walks whilst you are still at home just in case your dog needs extra support from you

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Reintroduce their old walking routine

With many of us enjoying the great outdoors more during lockdown, chances are a lot of our dogs have also been getting more frequent and longer walks. You should consider the walks your dog will have once you return to work and other activities – for example, think about what time walks will be, how long they will be and where you will go.

It will be beneficial to start gradually matching the walks to meet this so that the new routine does not come as a shock to the system, particularly if exercise is reduced. On the other hand, if you have been unable to exercise your dog as much as you usually would during COVID-19, you should gradually increase the amount of exercise to avoid injury to both you and your dog!

If you got a new puppy during lockdown, you should ensure they have received all of the vaccinations and other preventative healthcare they need before you start taking them outside. Contact the surgery and book an appointment to make sure your puppy is fully protected.

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Cats

Anyone with a cat will know that each one has a very unique personality and enjoyment of human companionship can vary widely from cat to cat. Whilst some cats may have felt inconvenienced and annoyed about their owners being around more and giving them more attention, others will have been grateful for the extra fuss and increased lap-sitting time! However, regardless of what personality type your cat has, all cats can be sensitive to change, so try some of these tips to help keep your cat happy.

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Reduce interaction time

Gradually reduce the amount of interaction you have with your cat to help them prepare for when you go back to work. However, once you are back at work, make sure that you still spend quality time with your cat everyday.

Help them beat the boredom

Provide them with some boredom breaker toys, particularly if they are indoor cats. For example, puzzle feeding toys, catnip toys and scratch posts or climbing frames will all help keep your cats mind and body stimulated whilst they are home alone.

Keep things on their terms

When you first go back to work, you will probably be excited to see your cat when you get home after being away from them for the first time in a long time! However, try not to smother them with attention and follow them around, and instead let them greet you on their terms. Too much unwanted attention can be stressful for your cat so try to avoid this.

During the lockdown period, you may have forgotten or been unable to obtain your cats regular preventative health care medications such as flea and worm treatments. Knutsford Vets Surgery have been offering home delivery or click and collect for all parasite treatments. If you’ve fallen behind, simply email the surgery with your requirements and we’ll arrange payment, along with delivery or collection.

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