As schools are re-opening for the Autumn term, and with many professionals now returning to the office, our pets are also due to go through a period of change as they get used to more time at home on their own.

Many pets have benefited from having their owners around much more frequently due to the pandemic, and so as we move back towards a more normal routine, we need to ensure that our pets adjust to their new normal too.

Below are some tips on how to help your pet through the back to school and work changes this Autumn:

Separation anxiety

Behavioural problems associated with separation can commonly occur when a pet has not built up the confidence to be left alone by themselves for a prolonged period of time. Lockdown puppies have grown up used to family members being at home, so this may be a concern for them. It is important to start training your pet to be comfortable about being in their own company, or with non-family members as soon as possible as the change will be quite a shock for them.

Changes to exercise

During Lockdown, many dogs will have experienced increased levels of exercise.  Transitioning back to their old routine needs careful management. This also affects getting used to a reduced opportunity to go outside to the toilet as well as reduced overall stimulation. Consider this if you experience any inappropriate toileting in the house. Remember, do not punish or negatively reinforce this behaviour. Training may be needed to encourage them to take the opportunity to go at set points in the day.

Canine companions with arthritic changes may have been getting a little more exercise than usual and as such their stiffness may have decreased over Lockdown. As they start to spend more time indoors you might find that their stiffness returns to pre-Lockdown levels. This should be closely monitored, seek advice from your vet if you are worried for their comfort.

Weight/excessive feeding

With some of us having our daily routine out of kilter and free access to our kitchens all day we have all had the chance to pile on the pounds during the COVID lockdown. Our pets may have been getting more treats too! As a result, they may have gained weight and be expecting a little extra throughout the day. Be strict and start to train them not to expect the extras whilst you’re still in the home and it may help to avoid unwanted behaviour such as scavenging. Exercise is a great way to help keep your pets healthy, but excessive feeding is always likely to result in weight gain. It would be sensible to have your pet weighed if you are at all concerned about changes to their weight.

Give them something to do

Our pets will have been having much more interaction with the whole family during Lockdown. Those companions lapping up that extra attention will soon be without it and they may be missing it! Avoid the risk of unwanted separation anxiety and save your pet some disappointment by planning how you might transition back to a normal level of ‘alone time’, rather than going ‘cold turkey’ on your unsuspecting companion. Things to distract them and give them something to think about will come in very handy. There are many options on the market with the most popular being interactive feeders. Give you pet their daily ration (not extras) as you leave the house and make them work for it. Google will provide many ideas for this!

Possible health problems

We have definitely seen a rise in the number of stress-related diseases during Lockdown. A classic example of this would be cystitis in cats. With another change on the horizon, try to be prepared as much as possible and discuss with your veterinary practice ways which you might be able to help this transition, and mitigate potential problems. There are tactics and products on the market to aid in stress relief.

If you are concerned about your pet, or would like some further advice, please contact the practice on 01626 835002