Gee what a ride it has been so far. When restrictions hit a few months ago, it saw much of the world closed down, we started working from home if we could, and adjusting to that in itself was a mission. For the most part the veterinary world stayed much the same, so let’s have a chat about our patient’s worlds. The dogs and cats at home.
Dr Tracey Henderson, founder of Australian Veterinary Behaviour Services and educator extraordinaire at VetPrac’s Bootcamp Workshop on October 16-18, 2020, covered a lot of this information during a Vet Expo free webinar the other week. She wanted to share it with the VetPrac community, because she whats to help your patients. It is really eye opening how important the changes of working from home and the transition as we return to the office again effect our pets/patients. You might already be able to count on one hand the patients that will struggle mentally when their owner goes back to the office.
For most pets, their world was rocked and turned upside down when COVID restrictions were introduced.
Structure and routine is very important to our pets, so changes in general can be challenging – more so for some than others.
The changes that households have experienced since COVID restrictions may include:
The changes that the pet might directly experience as a result of the household changes may include:
These changes may have both positive and negative impacts on a pet and will vary between each individual.
They can’t communicate in English with us, so it is important we can understand the way they communicate.
Some signs that pets are finding life stressful might include:
If owners feel that their pet is struggling with the current change, then it is best to get professional help ASAP. Because then the pet can be ‘set up to succeed’ when the family structure/routine changes again when restrictions are eased.
Some pets may not be experiencing any signs of stress or negative impact at this stage – these are the pets that are likely loving having their humans with them 24/7. These pets however may be more likely to develop stress and anxiety when restrictions do ease and they are suddenly left home alone for longer hours.
It is important to prepare our pets in advance – it is better to be ‘proactive’.
We have experienced now what it is like to be restricted at home, 24/7. This is what our pet’s life is on a daily basis. Most people are working really hard to maintain some physical and mental stimulation as well as social connections – these are all really important basic needs for humans to ensure wellness. Please keep in mind what our pets experience when we suddenly go back to ‘life’ and they are left alone for long periods again. They need mental, physical and social enrichment just like we do, so please ‘don’t drop the ball’ and forget about this when life goes back to ‘normal’.
If pet behaviour is something that interests you or you just want to be better equipped to help your patients in clinic, join us at Bootcamp 2020, where the first day is dedicated to animal behaviour with Dr Tracey Henderson and Tracy Irons.
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