COVID-19 has brought new challenges for all of us, including our pets.

GET SOCIAL: Follow Ash Hargreaves on Instagram for regular behaviour information and patient stories @practicalpetbehaviour.

GET SOCIAL: Follow Ash Hargreaves on Instagram for regular behaviour information and patient stories @practicalpetbehaviour.

While plenty of people have been spending more time at home and with their pets, many have been noticing a few things about their physical and mental health they may not have noticed before. Many people have also brought new pets into their homes during this time, which has come with its own challenges - particularly socialising them while we've been under social restrictions.

Some challenges that COVID-19 has brought with it for our pets include:

  • Changes to the usual household routine.
  • More people at home more often, so potentially less time to have their usual rest during the day - this can be particularly important for older pets or pets suffering from anxiety.
  • More people and dogs out walking, so it's harder to avoid other dogs when on lead.
  • Not having time alone and being used to having constant company; this can be particularly hard for new pets who have not had their humans leave for regular work or school hours.
  • Less opportunities for socialisation of new pets to visitors in the house, and people and other pets out in public.

Some basic things we can continue to do to address these challenges for our pets is to try and keep their routines are similar as possible to what they will be when we all return to work and school. Get your pets used to having time on their own throughout the day and pairing this time with a food puzzle, treat or toy that will keep them occupied and make this time by themselves enjoyable. Also ensure all your pets have places they can rest without being disturbed to keep everyone happy and safe.

Get your pets used to having time on their own throughout the day

As for socialisation, try and get new puppies out meeting as many new dogs, people and new environments as you can while socially distancing and ensuring your puppy is in a positive emotional state. Even car rides can be great way to get your puppy out in the world.

It is important people realise that any changes in their pet's behaviour can indicate a change in their mental health and should be a reason to see their vet, just as you would any change in your pet's physical health. If you are concerned about your pet's behaviour, please call one of our local Fur Life Vet clinics (Warrnambool Veterinary, Terang and Mortlake Veterinary Clinic, and Cox Street Vets in Hamilton) for advice.

For more information on how to socialise your pet during this time, or how to read the body language of your pet so you can recognise when they are becoming stressed, fearful or anxious, visit furlifevet.com.au/the-pet-stress-scale.

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