Scottish pet owners urged to practice social distancing with their pets

Pet owners across Scotland are being warned of the damaging effect the coronavirus lockdown may be having on the nation's animals.

Scottish SPCA has warned of the effect lockdown life may be having on our pets. Picture: Getty

The Scottish SPCA has said it is "really important' for owners to practice social distancing with dogs and cats amid fears the change in our routine is causing extra stress and anxiety to pets.

The call comes after recent findings from Nature’s Menu revealed almost a third of pet owners they interviewed are concerned about the damage lockdown proximity has on their pet’s mood.

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Sharon Comrie, Scottish SPCA Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre Superintendent suggests owners start introducing social distancing with their animals so that they can adjust to life when the pandemic is over.

She said:

“It’s really important to exercise social distancing with your pet. It sounds crazy but in the long run, it will make a happier household.

If you act now and practice social distancing with them at least half hour or an hour every day, then it should give them a healthier attitude for when we come out of this lockdown and go back to work.””

Experts believe that, during lockdown, cats in particular are suffering from the consequences of mollycoddling.

Ross Allan, vet at Roundhouse Veterinary Hospital in Glasgow said:

“Cats will pick up on the stress of people being around the house more and this change in the owner’s pattern of behaviour might play a significant part in cats getting urinary tract symptoms.”

Nocturnal pets are also in danger of suffering stress and anxiety due to their owners being at home all the time.

Ms. Comrie commented:

“For rodents like hamsters they’re nocturnal so they are usually sleeping during the day.

If the household is quiet, then they are getting peace to sleep but if the kids are all running about and the tv’s on that’s all disrupting their usual patterns so they will get anxious.”

Despite playtime for dogs actively encouraged by experts, there is a concern that many dogs will suffer from anxiety post-Lockdown when their owners are no longer with them 24/7.

Rachel Casey, Dog’s Trust’s Director of Canine Behaviour and Research commented:

‘Our worry is that separation anxiety in dogs will increase.

The dogs that have separation anxiety will be happier now but I think there will be a huge rebound when people go back to work.”

Ms Comrie advised that people start acting now to prevent this anxiety. She said:

“I would suggest people start now by leaving their dogs at home as they go for essential shopping and make sure there’s no one in the house with them so they are used to a period of time where they can be left in the home.

If that’s not possible, try spending time away from them in another room just so the dog has that period of time where there is distance.

If you don’t do these things, they are going to depend on you for everything and so the anxiety is going to get worse if they are suddenly left on their own.”

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