Sally Sizer, who works as a secretary for the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management at Southern and a professional dog trainer, offers five quick tips on pet care during the coronavirus pandemic. She teaches dog training classes at Metro Pooch in North Branford.
“While pets don’t understand pandemics, they DO understand stress in their human family,” Sizer says. “They do this by being able to smell that their family (or individual person) is stressed. Our pets can smell perspiration and they can sense anxiety. Emotional support dogs are known for being able to do this.”
Sizer also said that pets, especially dogs, are creatures of habit. “Dogs thrive on things being as consistent as possible.” She said that her own dogs look out the door for at least 10 minutes before she arrives home. But when their human family members are home all the time, it can actually upset their sense of consistency.
She recommends the following tips to help ease your pets’ stress levels:
- Try to keep your pet on as much of a routine as possible. For example, if you have a dog, please continue to walk them at the same time each day.
- Play with your pet! Whether you have a cat or dog, please make sure you spend some time to play with them. For a cat, maybe toss a catnip ball. For a dog, play the “find it” game with a yummy treat (put the dog in one room, hide the treat in another. Once the treat is hidden, ask your dog to “find it!”)
- Make sure you feed your pet the EXACT same food for them. Please don’t switch their dog or cat food in this middle of this pandemic. This could cause digestive upsets for them.
- BREATHE! This may sound silly, but pets understand body language. If you learn to breathe slowly while in the company of your pet, this will help them to calm down as well.
- Ear Slides — One of the most important things you can do for your pet is to do something called “ear slides.” Many dogs and cats LOVE their ears rubbed; but most people don’t know why! The answer is because you are accessing many of your pets acupressure points that are located in their ears! By gently stroking your pets’ ears you are accessing their acupressure points that include areas in their entire bodies for behaviors like stress, along with other behaviors.