If you bought or adopted a pet during lockdown, then you’re far from alone. Adoptions of cats, dogs and other pets skyrocketed during the last 18 months, and it’s a sad fact that abandonments and attempts to rehome some of those pets have also risen as their owners failed to integrate them into their lives in the long run.
If you don’t want to join their number, you’ll have to think about how you’re going to care for your pet when something approaching normality resumes, and today we’re here to help.
Many pets are creatures of routine, and come to expect food, play and exercise at the times they’re accustomed to them. If returning to the workplace means changing the time you walk your dog or feed your cat, you need to start the process of change now so it doesn’t arrive all at once, causing them stress, confusion and fear.
Check how long you have until your new routine needs to be in place and then work out how gently you can make those changes – if you’re able to work back your time for walkies or breakfast by just ten minutes a day, it’ll help your pets adjust.
Similarly if someone else will be coming in to feed or walk them while you’re not available, it would be best to start that while you’re still there: this will help reassure your pets and minimise their stress and feelings of abandonment.
If you’re going to be away from your pets for long periods, you should be ready for them to have issues with attachment. Unexpected long periods of loneliness can cause stress and anxiety for social creatures like dogs that rely on having you around. Even some cats cope badly with long periods alone.
The key is to build up your pets’ resilience gradually over time. Leave them alone for first minutes, then an hour, then multiple hours, making a big fuss of them when you return. This will address their fear that they’ve been abandoned when you walk out of the door and reassure them that you’ll be coming back.
For some dogs – especially puppies – it simply isn’t practical, safe or kind to leave them alone for extended periods. If you’re going to be called back into the office for an eight hour working day (plus commuting time) you need to make arrangements for your pet to be cared for by someone you trust, to minimise the time they spend alone.
If you’ve been relying on being at home to get your pet to the vet for regular appointments, or to get advice when you’re worried, being back in the office may make it hard. If your pet’s health is on the line, you need to make your manager aware of your obligations and ask for flexibility. If you’re just looking for advice, however then you might want to talk to a vet online: these online vet practices offer you the flexibility you need to get advice that will set your mind at rest.