Information for you and your pets during Covid 19
Avoiding Separation Anxiety
Normally we advise owners with new pets how to teach their dogs to cope with being home alone. In the current situation this has been turned on its head! This will potentially bring new challenges to our pets in the future
During this period of isolation at home the temptation will be for us to want our dogs to be with us all the time – for companionship, to help relieve stress, to provide entertainment for the children or for no other reason than we just like their company.
Our dogs may really enjoy this added interaction but it does have its downside.
Many dogs suffer from separation related problems when they are left alone. The more contact they have with owners over a long period of time the more likely that this will happen in the future. When our lives get back to normal and we all go back to work and school our dogs will suddenly be left alone again and the separation will be more acute because of the close attachment we have had with them in the preceding weeks.
What can I do?
- Ensure your dogs are left for certain periods during the day for ” time out” away from people.
- This should be in a separate room with their familiar bed. They should be given something to do such as an appropriate chew item. This time alone is also really important for the dog’s welfare, as downtime to rest reduces stress levels particularly in very active breeds and puppies.
- Introduce this gradually over the coming days – the dog should not view this as a punishment. If you use a healthy treat such as sea jerky or pieces of carrot or a small treat of something they really like (we don’t want to increase weight !) each time they go to their “special” place it won’t be long before they love going there.
- Just a little bit of management now will help prevent many months of distress for our dogs when life goes back to normal.
Weight and Diet
- If you are unable to exercise your dog for the same amount of time it is important to reduce their food intake to prevent weight gain.
- Depending on age and activity levels generally, this will vary from pet to pet. As a starting point cutting the quantity of food by 10% would be a suggestion.
- Use feeding toys or special bowls to slow down their eating – this help make them feel more full
- Divide their daily amount into smaller more frequent meals if you are at home.
- Resist the temptation to give your dog more treats if you are around then more – use part of their daily food intake as rewards instead. If you want to give treats opt for something healthy such as small pieces of carrot or broccoli.
- Keep an eye on your dog’s waistline – the space between the end of the ribs and the hips should curve inwards – the Marilyn Munroe look – and you should be able to feel their ribs when you stroke them.
- Seek advice if your pet has underlying medical issues as reducing food intake may not be appropriate for all