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Preparing your pets before you head back to work

Posted at 1:19 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 15:07:38-04

Oklahoma is in Phase 2 of reopening and many people in Green Country are heading back to work.

After weeks of working from home, a new normal is setting in for families, including the family pets!

Sarah Peakheart

Oklahoma State University's Assistant Clinical Professor with the College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Sarah Peakheart said it is best to ease into this new routine with pets.

Peakheart said pets are experiencing the coronavirus pandemic alongside their humans. Now, although family pets reaped the benefits of their family working from home, they need to adjust to a new normal. This could cause pets to stress.

Puppies, kittens and newly adopted pets may be more prone to experience anxiety-related behavioral issues and illnesses. These pets don’t know there is a different “normal” than you being home all day to talk to them, have snacks, go for walks, have snacks, play games, have snacks and show them off at Zoom meetings.
Dr. Sarah Peakheart, OSU Assistant Clinical Professor

Peakhearts adds there are several signs of stress pet owners should be aware of:

  • changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • increased activity or attention seeking
  • increased destructive behavior or irritability
  • increased house soiling
  • increase in a new or recurring illness

If a pet owner sees any symptoms that worry them, Peakheart said to always call their veterinarian.

To help prepare a pet for their owners absence as they transition back to work, Peakheart recommends:

  • Create their own special safe place: a crate, a room or a gated area. Cats will need a raised hiding/sleeping area, scratching posts and appropriate size (and number) of litter boxes.
  • Rotate toys daily (puzzle treat toys are a great attention-getter for your pet).
  • Use pheromones to create a calming atmosphere: Adaptil® for dogs and Feliway® for cats.
  • Leave pets alone for short periods, slowly increasing the amount of time they spend alone.
  • Set and stick to a routine for feeding, walking and bedtime. Set a schedule you can keep when you return to work.
  • Spend time with them in the evenings as you would after returning to work.
  • Leave the TV or radio on if they have become accustomed to background noise. Try iCalmPet™, Spotify or YouTube for pet-specific music.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about nutritional and possibly pharmaceutical support.

The OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital is open and treating emergency cases, officials said.

For more information on the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital, click here.

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