Americans are anxious about the possibility of getting the C-19 coronavirus. According to the American Psychiatric Association 62% of The People suffer from anxiety and worry about family and loved ones contracting the disease. It is obvious the medical chaos is creating stress and anxiety for humans, but a leading expert claims that our pets are also affected.
Niwako Ogata, an associate professor of veterinary behavior medicine in Purdue University’s Collee of Veterinary Medicine calls this “secondhand anxiety.”
“It is important to understand that animals are not good at coping with uncertainty in general,” she said. Dr. Ogata specializes in anxiety disorders in pets, she adds that our faithful companions do not have access to the information people do, but can sense stress and uncertainty.
Many pets have become more needy while having the household at home, Stephanie Borns-Weil, DVM, an animal specialist at Cummings Veterinary Center at Tufts University says, “Pets’ world just suddenly turned upside down, and while individual cats and dogs may vary in their reactions, change in general is very challenging for most animals.”
Animal anxiety falls into 3 categories, they are the following:
Social tension. With more people working from home, there is more opportunity for human attention and in homes with several pets, this can cause problems. So, stick to a routine and working in 1 room away from pets. Do not overdo attention and affection.
Separation related behaviors. Animals with existing anxieties can have a hard time coping when their owners return to work. Make the transition gradual, leaving home for a few hours and working up to a full day, with a lunch break to check on the pets at home. Sometimes anti-anxiety medication can help.
Seasonal triggers. Summer weather may add to already established anxiety disorders and those triggered by the pandemic. Thunderstorms and fireworks are huge noise-related triggers for animals with anxiety. Create a safe space for animals to hide during storms and Independence Day celebrations. Play soothing music in the background or try non-pharmaceutical supplements and specially made anti-anxiety vests.
Cats can also express stress by unwelcome changes in toileting behavior such as urinating outside the litter box.
“Right now, there are a lot of unknowns, and our personal anxiety is escalating quite a bit,” said Dr. Ogata. “It is hard for our pets not to be directly impacted by that.”
Have a healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!