Months into the pandemic, my dog is acting differently. She often follows me and my husband around, isn't resting as much and seems to need more attention. Is it just my dog, or are other pets acting different, too? Turns out, it's pretty common, especially amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Much like us, our pets are having to adjust to the new normal. Here's what two veterinarians have to say about how the pandemic is changing pets' behavior and why.
Is Coronavirus Messing With Your Pets' Behavior?
The simple answer is yes. The unstable environment and change in pet owners' behaviors and daily routines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are also having an impact on pets, especially dogs.
"With our current COVID-19 pandemic and many people forced to stay at home, I am hearing from a lot of my clients that they are noticing changes in their dogs' behavior," Dr. Jason Rabe, DVM, a Los Angeles-based vet with 17 years of experience practicing, told POPSUGAR.
Dr. Victoria Hammer, DVM, of Johnstown Veterinary Associates in Johnstown, PA, also has seen an uptick in people bringing in their pets in with questions about different behaviors. Although pet parents may think something is physically wrong with their pet, it's mostly all behavioral changes tied to change in their owners' routines, Dr. Hammer says.
Why Is Coronavirus Affecting My Pet's Behavior?
Some of it is due to pets experiencing cabin fever, like their pet parents, or picking up on their owner's increased stress due to the pandemic. But the main reason is likely because of disruption in routines, as pets, particularly dogs, are very tied to their daily schedules, Dr. Hammer said.
Dr. Rabe added that some of the changes may simply be due to the fact that pet owners are now spending the entire day with their pet rather than running off to work. "Most dogs probably spend a good portion of the day, when home alone, resting or sleeping. With Mom or Dad now home, they are stimulated more and likely more active as they interact with their owner instead of sleeping on the couch."
Dr. Hammer also said that owners may simply be noticing behaviors that always existed but they didn't notice because they weren't spending as much time at home.
How Can I Help My Pet Adjust to Changes Due to COVID-19?
The good news is that a change in routine is sometimes beneficial when it comes to training as dogs can get very set in their ways, Dr. Rabe says. However, sticking to the same feeding times or the same time to go on a walk may be beneficial to ease a dog's anxieties.
Don't forget to continue to give your pets exercise, and it's also not a bad thing to give them some space for a while during the day. As Dr. Rabe notes, they like to spend a chunk of their day resting or sleeping without disturbance. But remember when things more or less go back to normal — or when you go back into the office full-time — your pet may need time again to adjust.