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Pets and back to school

Living

WHERE HAVE THEY GONE? Dogs have become used to having their humans around the house all the time.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

September is upon us and with it comes changes in many of our lives, back to school being a prominent feature for children, parents and even grandparents. This year will be quite unpredictable, given the Covid situation.
Changes in people’s comings and goings about the house will also impact on your pets. They have become used to our continuous presence since March last, so September will bring disruption to their routines too.
Pets that have experienced a lot of attention and human interaction over the past five months will now potentially be left alone for much longer periods of time during the day. This can lead to some potential problems in terms of boredom, frustration and increased anxiety.
It’s out with the lunch boxes and on with the uniforms once again, but in the rush back to ‘normality’, do please take the time think about your pet’s mental health, as well as their security.

Separation anxiety
Dogs, more so than cats, need social interaction for their mental health, and with the changes that September will bring, we should be thinking about ways that we can help them adapt to being on their own some more.
Getting up that bit earlier in the morning to bring the dog for a walk, providing them with stimulating toys, perhaps leaving a radio on for them and making sure to give them time in the evening will go a long way to alleviating any built up anxiety or frustration/boredom that may develop due to family life changes.
Dogs can become very destructive due to boredom, so making sure that they are in a secure area or in a room in the house where they cannot do any damage to furnishings etc is important.

Security
There is also a very worrying increase in the number of dogs being stolen at the present time, and so we should be considering their security and how to keep them safe from would-be thieves. If your dog is usually kept in a run outdoors or free outside the house, perhaps it is time to rethink the level of security for them. I know the old saying goes that locks only keep honest people out, but being aware of how secure outdoor runs are or thinking about whether it is safe to allow the dog free reign, unattended for longer periods, is in fact a good idea.
Keeping your dog indoors at present may well be the safer option. Asking a neighbour to look in on your pet during the day may also be a good idea, and this would also have the added benefit of breaking the boredom cycle for your pet.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your pet is microchipped and more importantly that the correct details are on the relevant database.

Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.