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Avoiding post-lockdown pet panic

While pets have helped so many keep sane during lockdown many are worrying about the mental health of our animals as people slowly return to their normal lives outside the home.

With the social isolation and potential for loneliness that accompanies a lockdown, it's no surprise that many people around the world adopted a pet. In places like New York rescue dog adoption became so competitive that people were going to the lengths of making resumés, in the UK 3.2million pets were bought during lockdown and here in Australia we have experienced the highest pet adoption rate in a decade.

But people (and maybe some particularly clever pets themselves?) are worried about the potential damage to our pets mental health post-covid. Sadly for some pets, the spike in adoption innevitably meant that some owners weren't cut out for it. One Victorian shelter supervisor said that she had seen a 30% increase in pets being returned or surrendered by their owners.

But for those pets that have found a happy home - people are also just worried about the isolation they might feel when their owners turn off the air-fryer and bravely venture back outside.

One brand Petco have created a raft of resources and (you guessed it) products, to help in the process of this transition.

Apart from a great ad the brand offers specially designed toys, food, monitors, petware and courses, the brand has different solutions for dogs, cats, fish, small pets, reptiles and birds.

So what steps can you take to ensure a happy pet? Fur Life Vets have written this simple guide:

1. Make the transition slow

Rather than suddenly leave your pet home alone for hours every day, try and make the transition slow if this is a possibility for your household.

For example:

  • If everyone doesn’t have to go back to work at once, then stagger their return

  • If you can work from home for a few days, then continue to do so rather than go straight to a full 5 day week at work

  • If you can start with shorter shifts or come home during lunch breaks try to do so for the initial transition.

2. Give your pets plenty of things to do

Give pets things to keep them interested and focused, to prevent them from using their energy in more destructive ways.

  • Rather than feed your pet from a bowl, feed them from food puzzles such as Kong’s or other interactive feeders, you can scatter their food around or leave a treasure hunt by hiding it in multiple places.

  • Give your dog a bone if they are used to having them or another safe object to chew on such as an antler or chew toy.

  • Leave out toys your pet may like to play with and then rotate these each day.

3. Keep a routine as much as possible

Keep to a routine time for:

  • walks

  • play

  • bed and

  • feeding times

For dogs, this will mean they know when to expect their next walk or exercise, and they should quickly learn that outside of these times when you are at work, is a good time to rest.

Zara Cooper

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