The isolation we’re all experiencing amid coronavirus presents an opportunity to strengthen the bond we share with our pets. But experts are sounding a new alarm – all of the time together could actually damage a pet’s health.
There are a variety of factors affecting a pet’s health and many begin with us, the pet parents. Let’s face it, this self-isolation can get extremely lonely, especially for those of us without family or friends. Pets can easily pick up on our emotions. They’re intuitive and they’ll notice changes in our activity, our general mood, even the tone of our voice.
“Pets pick up subliminal messages, and they are going to pick up on anxiety and stress,” Chad Dodd, DVM, told a British news agency. “Anytime when there are changes in our daily routine, it’s going to disrupt our pets.”
It’s a disruption made worse by stay-at-home orders during the pandemic.
“Pets live in the moment,” Dodd said. They don’t understand time.
If our pets have been accustomed to receiving our attention while we’re at home, they aren’t going to understand that we’re busy working and can’t provide constant attention all day.
Problems now and later
For many pet parents, the response to concerns over the emotional wellbeing of pets could lead to mental and physical health issues down the road. There’s always a risk in overfeeding and too much food or too many treats can lead to obesity, circulatory and heart problems. And when life does return to normal – and it will – all of this togetherness with pets comes to an end. Even dogs that never minded being alone before could soon be at risk of developing severe separation anxiety.
New recommendations include leaving pets alone in the home for at least an hour a day. This will help to maintain something similar to your, and your pet’s, pre-COVID-19 schedule. If you crate your dog, use the hour to keep that routine going. Other recommendations include maintaining your pet’s normal feeding and walk times. For pet parents, our “new normal” is to at least fake it when it comes to the wellbeing of our pets.
We want to help
Soon (we hope) the easing of social distancing requirements and the reopening of our economies will mean a return to work and social activities. If your pup has never experienced dog day care, this is a great time to begin exploring options. At Lucky & Lady, our Enhanced Day Care program is structured to encourage socialization and the reinforcement of good behaviors. Our love and attention is delivered in an exceptionally clean environment with medical-grade air quality.
Pets are our greatest comforters. We’ve written about how they’re good for our health. The challenge will be in protecting theirs.