Pets are Stressing Out as Owners Go Back to Work

stress benefits of pets

As Albuquerque starts to open back up after the full shutdown from Covid-19 many of us are returning to work instead of being on pause or working from home. This has been a great thing for many of us, both from a financial perspective as well as a mental health perspective. Do you know who this has not been great for? Your pets.

Your pets love it when you are at home. They love you being around. Yes, even your cats. Despite what many cartoons tell us, our pets are not waiting for us to leave so they can have the house to themselves. You are your pets world. If you have more than one pet, so your cat or dog has a buddy, that helps, but they still miss you. As everyone is returning to work and returning to life you may start noticing some behavioral issues with your pets.

Signs of Stress in Your Pet

Here are a few signs of stress in your pet that could indicate they are having a hard time with you being gone.

Chewing things. Chewing things, other than toys, is a sign of anxiety or anger. If you notice your dog has chewed up your shoes or eaten your socks, don’t be mad. They are telling you they are upset.

Barking. Was your dog typically quiet during the day when you were at work but now they are noisy? This is a sign of anxiety.

Barfing. You will see this more with cats than with dogs. Cats, when under stress, will start barfing a lot more.

Pacing. This means walking around, especially back and forth, a lot. This says they are not relaxing.

Depression. Some pets have very visible and obvious signs of depression while others will show signs like lethargy and general disinterest.

Not Eating. Going off their food, or only eating when you are around.

Losing Hair. This is more of an extreme reaction but some animals, when under stress, will lose hair and develop bald spots.

Helping to De-Stress Your Pet

If you notice signs of stress in your pet since you have gone back to work there are a number of things you can do to help them transition back into the old routine.

Lots of Attention. The most important thing to remember is that when you were home your pet was getting a ton of attention and now they aren’t. When you get home, make sure to give your pet lots of love and attention. Take them out on a walk, go play with them, snuggle on the couch, just spend time with them. They have been really missing you all day.

Toys. If your pet is chewing on things, consider getting them some new toys to chew on. Often having an alternative to your shoes will be a satisfactory replacement. We suggest keeping your bedroom or closet doors shut so they can’t get into your laundry and eat your socks.

Rescue Remedy is a great natural supplement that quells anxiety. You can add it to their water and it will help them chill out.

Feeding Routine. If your animal is off their food, try adjusting their feeding routine to get them use to you not being there when they eat. Give them some food while you are in the room and then leave the room. Come back and give them more and then leave for longer. Stretch this out until they are eating all their food by themselves but you are still in the house. Then move to feeding half of their food while you are in the house but not with them and then leave for the second half. In about a week your pet should be back to eating autonomously.

Barfing. If your cat is barfing try feeding them smaller quantities more frequently. This will keep them from scarfing their food down, or having a lot of food in their stomach to barf up. Some cats will eat super fast when stressed and this will help them slow down. You can also get special bowls that help your pet slow down their eating, like puzzle bowls.

Crating. If your dog is pacing or barking a lot, you should look in crate training. Crate training is a great way to deal with some unwanted behavior while providing your pet with a stress free place to be. Once a dog is crate trained being in the crate is their safe space and they go there to get away from stress and anxiety.

If you are worried about your pets stress levels, call your local Albuquerque veterinarian to discuss ways to help your pet with their stress and anxiety.

4th of July Pet Safety in the Era of Covid-19

Can you believe that the 4th of July holiday is right around the corner? Though in this tie of social distancing and quarantine, the celebrations may not be quite what they normally are. There are likely still going to be some bbq’s, fireworks, and some noise creating festivities.

 

A lot of people like to go to the park on the long weekend. It is a great way to spend the day outside and you know your dog loves it. This year, because of Covid-19, you will want to make sure to take some extra precautions. 

 

  1. Only gather in groups of 5- I know this is frustrating when we are all craving some socializing, especially on this holiday. But we are not out of the woods with Covid-19. Please stay safe and keep other people safe by only gathering in groups of 5.
  2. Wear a mask- Your pets don’t need to wear a mask but you do. If you are out in public, make sure to have a mask on. 
  3. DO NOT let people pet your dog.- Often in parks when people see your amazing dog they want to come over and pet it. Do not allow them to do this. It is possible to contract Covid-19 if an infected person pets your dog and then you pet your dog. Dog’s don’t like to social distance but this is a time when you really need to make sure they do,
  4. Keep your dog near you.- If you are in a park, make sure to keep a collar on your dog so you can quickly put them on a leash. You may even want to keep them on a long leash so you can make sure they are staying within your area and not visiting other families. 
  5. If you come in contact with someone else’s pet, or other people, make sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. Covid-19 can spread from surface contact. 
  6. Keep your pets inside during the fireworks. There is never a time you want to have to search the streets for your dog if they got scared and ran away. But this year this applies even more. Make sure your dog has their microchip so if they do run away it is easier to rehome them.
  7. Get your vaccinations up to date.- It is always important to make sure your vaccinations are up to date but if you are taking your dog in public you don’t want to have to worry about things like catching Kennel Cough. Drop into our walk-in shot clinic and get your annual vaccines.  

 

Enjoy the 4th of July and make sure you stay safe. 

To Declaw or Not to Declaw

soft paws alternative to declaw

Declawing is a very controversial topic when it comes to cat ownership. Lets look at the facts.

It is a major surgery.

It is an amputation of part of the cats “finger” and not just a big trimming of the claw.

It is painful.

But when should you consider declawing your cat?

soft paws alternative to declaw

Declawing your cat is not a medically necessary procedure. It is not like a spay or a neuter. It does not benefit the physical or mental health of your cat. However, there are times when a cats clawing can become so destructive that it may be considered necessary. 

Before declawing you should try behavior modification training and tools.

How to Stop Your Cat From Clawing

Scratching post- Oh you know this one and are likely rolling your eyes reading about this but bare with me. For some cats providing a scratching post is a great alternative to your couch. If your cat is not showing interest, try rubbing cat nip on it or spraying it with a cat nip spray. Often times the biggest issue with scratching posts is that there are not enough of them. When you are training your cat to use a post instead of your couch you need to have a scratching post in front of everything they scratch. You cannot offer them an alternative that is not the scratching post. If there are things they scratch despite the scratching post, try making the scratching post smell good and the other thing smell bad. There are deterrent sprays you can get that will repel your cat.

Positive and Negative reinforcement– This takes consistency. If your cat is scratching you need to give them a negative reinforcement such as a loud whistle they dislike or spraying them with water. When they scratch on the scratching post you need to praise them with pets and treats. This tells them what the desirable and undesirable behaviors are. For this to be effective you have to be extremely consistent with your cat. If you are away for long periods of time, it may not be effective. Also, if you do not deter your cat in the moment of them scratching it won’t work. The only way they will associate a loud noise or water spray with scratching is if it happens when they are doing it. DO NOT punish your cat after scratching has occurred. 

Soft Paws – Soft paws are a great way to keep your scratching cat from doing damage. These are little rubber tips that slip over your cats nails. They keep the nails from being able to scratch and they look cute on your cat giving their nails a little splash of color. With soft paws, even if they do scratch they will cause no damage. The downside is you have to replace them every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on your cat. 

Keep in mind that scratching is normal behavior for cats. Even cats that are declawed will still do the scratching action even though there are no nails. 

If despite trying behavior training, your cat is causing too match damage to your home or to your person, then it may be time to consider declawing. Typically you only declaw the front paws as that is what is doing the damage. It is a quick surgery that takes a few days for them to recover. If you are unsure if declawing is the right option for you, then talk to your Albuquerque veterinarian and discuss your options.