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How are Pets Affected during a time of Social Restrictions and Uncertainty

Gosh, what a serious sounding title… well, the sad truth is that we are all experiencing a period of unprecedented restriction and uncertainty, individually, nationally and globally. The expectation is that this current period will shape and define much that follows, it will have a lasting legacy… pre and post Covid-19 will potentially be spoken about and considered as equivalent to pre and post-WW2… Now that takes a bit to get your head around but then so does pretty much everything that is happening right now.

However, we’re not here to try and understand the global crisis, the actions of governments and the consequences of all that is occurring around us…. Nope, we’re here to consider how this tumultuous time may be impacting our pets. A far more interesting topic as I’m sure you’ll all agree!   

Surely, the more time we spend at home the happier our furry families will be? Perhaps… but potentially this is not quite so straight forward and there are a few factors, tangibles and caveats that require a bit of contemplation. So, in the spirit of making life simpler where possible, here are GVC’s top five “things to consider” (and some useful tips that hopefully will come in handy):

  1. Our pets are (generally) happier when they have a routine
    1. We also like our routines, habits and rituals and adjustments can take a bit of getting used to… but we are normally able to understand when changes are required, for our pets it’s not so easy.
    2. No matter how tempting it may be to let the normal work day routines slip whilst you’re doing remote working (or taking some extended home leave), try to maintain your pet’s routines as much as possible – meal times, walkies and snoozing are highlights for our furry friends, so keeping a similar structure to their day will help to maintain the anticipation for the stuff they love. 
  2. Change can be difficult to adjust to… and we’re not just talking about our pets.
    1. The inability for our pets to understand and comprehend the reason for change can be a massive cause of stress to them when change does happen.
    2. Just as a routine is a positive, avoiding or minimizing unnecessary changes should be considered a key objective where possible…. Although just by you being home more, changes will ripple out around you. This is where observing your pet and noticing if any behaviour changes start to occur is so important.  
  3. Cats and dogs (but especially cats) like their own space!
    1. Sure, we all know this but sometimes the urge to give your pooch a tickle or find your kitty for a bit of a play may be overwhelming to them. Therefore, try to let your pet dictate when they want to interact and, as the old saying goes… do “let sleeping dogs lie”. 
    2. If we needed to snooze for up to 16 hours a day such as our dogs and cats, then being poked awake every couple of hours would probably start to irritate…. The same applies for our furry friends (children under 40 take note).
  4. Our pets are (as the term suggests) not entirely independent (some cats may disagree), so if you find a greater dependency forming from your favourite four-legged friend, this may not be such a positive.
    1. Whilst constant pet attention when you are home might seem like the perfect antidote to the uncertainties around us, we should consider the difficulties that may occur when (yes when) the world spins back on its normal axis and we return to something like the life we lived pre Covid…
    2. Separation anxiety can have a serious impact on our pets (especially, but not exclusively for dogs) and it would be worth considering the impact that may occur when, after having you as an almost constant in their lives for a few weeks, your return to a 9:00 – 17:00 (or similar) existence….    
  5. Our furry friends are just as prone as we are to mental and emotional issues and they respond to the environment (and people) around them, something worth considering during these exceptionally challenging times.  
    1. The stress you may be under right now (and it is, without doubt, a stressful time) can impact those around you…. The constant barrage of news, “fake” news and outright fantasy that exists through the myriad medias is likely not helping you and so by association, them…
    2. Try to give yourself a break and switch off for a while. Think about the good things and reasons to be positive (there will be many, including your pets), in short practice mindfulness, exercise and look after yourself. All those around you, both two and four legged, love you and want you to be your best self!

We know that this is an extraordinarily difficult time, a period of huge change and uncertainty as this global crisis impacts all our lives. Whilst we may not be able to directly help our human community, we will do everything we can to support your pets and hopefully in doing so, lessen the potential stress in your lives.

By being aware of our pet’s mental and emotional wellbeing as well as their physical condition, we will be better placed to help them stay healthy and happy during these tough times. Whilst being at home more certainly has ups and downs, one benefit is the opportunity to really observe how our furry friends are acting, to identify any unusual behaviours and, in doing so, perhaps find ways to help enhance or improve their lives…. Now that would be a positive outcome!

GVC is the only clinic in the UAE to offer Veterinary Behaviour Medicine. These services are delivered by Dr Katrin who is undertaking a dual residency in both the American and European Colleges for Veterinary Behaviour Medicine. We understand that the mental and emotional wellbeing impacts the physical health and vice versa… so a holistic approach is always preferred to achieve the optimum results.

For more information or to make a booking contact drkatrin@germanvet.ae or call 025562024 to learn more!

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