Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Pet Expert: Pet Ownership Soaring Amid Pandemic

For the past eight months, many of us have spent unprecedented amounts of time at home. Whether working from home or temporarily unemployed, one thing is for sure: pet owners have been able to enjoy a great deal more time with their beloved furry friends. Studies have shown that many people suffering from lock-down blues don’t think they would have been able to make it through without their pets by their side.

For many, this new routine has presented the perfect opportunity to add a new pet to the family. After all, being at home more makes it much easier to potty train a puppy or give a rescue cat extra snuggles.

For the first time in a long time, many humane societies, rescues, and shelters are reporting record numbers of adoptions. In fact, some shelters can’t get animals in fast enough for the swarms of families eager to adopt. While this may seem like a blessing for animal rescuers, many fear those animals may be returned in droves over the next year, causing a cascade of problems from intake, housing, veterinary care, and more.

After all, what happens to all these pets when their owners resume a regular out-of-the-house routine?

This has many animal rescue workers bracing for an increase in abandoned or surrendered pets when our way of life returns to a pre-Covid-like state. While the home-life situation for many is conducive with pet ownership at the moment, the stress of returning to a busy work life out of the house may become too much to juggle. This is especially true for dogs, who require regular walks and let outs, as well as stimulation and attention in order to thrive.

If you are considering adopting a dog during the pandemic knowing you’ll eventually return to working outside of the home, consider the following:

 

How often will my dog need to be walked?

Most dogs benefit from minimum two walks per day, one in the morning and one in the evening. This is the perfect opportunity for them to do their business, stretch their legs, and also provides much needed stimulation from the outside world. It is important for dogs to get consistent daily walks, for both mental health as well as physical well-being. Despite popular belief, even tiny dogs need regular walks.

If you will not be able to provide sufficient walks for your dog because of time constraints when you return to work, will you be able to hire a dog walker?

Who will let my dog out for bathroom breaks?

While it is not the most ideal scenario, many dogs can handle long stretches alone in the home. Dogs should be let out for a bathroom break in the middle of the day to prevent indoor accidents. To ensure your dog is comfortable and happy while you’re at work, a dog walker or sitter can be useful for those much needed daily let-outs.

Will my dog receive enough love and attention?

Transitioning from a home-life with unlimited attention to one where the owners are out of the house most of the day can be quite distressing for many dogs. This can lead to destructive behaviours, separation anxiety, excessive barking and whining, defecating in the home, and other unwanted problems.

It’s important to consider how a change in household routine may affect a dog before committing to bringing one into the home. There are many ways to prepare a dog for a changing routine, such as gradually leaving them for longer periods of time to get them used to it. Making use of enrichment toys and activities is essential, as a bored dog can quickly get into a lot of trouble when left unattended. Most dog breeds come from generations of working stock, meaning they are bred by design to fulfill specific duties and tasks. Without the proper outlets for this core need, dogs will inevitably find their own outlet, and it is often in the form of an unwanted behaviour or action.

If you’d still like to welcome a new pet into your home, but are unsure you will be able to commit to the needs of a dog, then a cat may be a better option. Cats are far more self-sufficient than dogs; they need to be fed daily and have their litter box cleaned out regularly, but typically do not require much more than simple love and attention (when they feel like it!).

It is a wonderful act of kindness to welcome a rescue animal into your home. Just be sure to give careful consideration to the individual needs of your potential new pet before making this long term commitment.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon holds multiple certifications in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.

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