Finally, our shelter has reopened to the public! It’s been a long haul and we certainly have had our share of bumps along the way, but we’re once again happy to have potential adopters come in and check out our pets.
It’s odd though how difficult it seems to act and proceed in our daily routines in a ‘normal’ way. I’m still back and forth on when and where I might still need to wear a mask, when and if it’s ok to shake a someone’s hand or give them a hug, I still pause before entering an enclosed area with multiple people; I guess it’s just a matter of time.
As we put our lives back together, our pets may also be experiencing some anxieties of their own, after all, whatever affects our lives, schedules, socializing, etc., also affects them.
Many, many pets actually benefited from the drastic changes in our routines; their people were home, spending time with them like they never had before. During the last year and a half there has also been a tremendous surge in the acquisition of new pets as people had time on their hands and a need for something new and comforting in their lives.
Now, as we work our way back to our usual routines, we need to help our pets make the adjustment as well. Upsets in the lives of our companion animals can result in things like stress, anxiety and boredom.
All of those things can lead to behavior and health issues. A bored dog or cat can become destructive. Stress and anxiety can cause things such as aggression, housebreaking accidents and self-mutilation such as excessive licking and chewing. Both dogs and cats may suffer from some level of separation anxiety, especially if your pets have had you and your family home a lot during the pandemic.
Newly acquired pets may be especially impacted by sudden changes in routine or the influx of having people they are unfamiliar with in the house.
Here are a few tips to help avoid any serious repercussions from your return to normal. The two most important tools are exercise and mental stimulation.
Are you one of those folks that found new interest in walking the dog during the shutdown? Don’t stop walking, especially if you’re out and away from the house more. Regardless of whether you’ve been keeping your dog more active or not, find ways to make it happen.
Cats can also benefit from exercise and interactive toys are a great way to get them moving as well giving them something to get excited about.
As long as your animals aren’t overweight, food puzzles can be good for both exercise and mental stimulation in dogs as well as cats.
At the shelter, our pets get different types of enrichment activities at least twice a day which is essential in maintaining their wellbeing in a shelter environment. In the cat rooms we use things like bubble machines, disco lights, homemade food puzzles and catnip toys.
Aside from volunteers walking our dogs, they get baby pools to play in, food puzzles, healthy chews and scent therapy.
All of these things can be done at home and there are a million ideas to be found online, many of which are made of stuff that you already have around the house like cardboard toilet paper rolls and Frisbees.
For many of us, our pets really helped us get through the past year with their companionship and entertaining ways. Let’s make sure we’re doing everything we can do to help them get through the return to normal life.
Shelter needs: Hard plastic pet carriers (new or used), adult dry cat food without dyes, cat litter, canned dog food, hot dogs, cream cheese, soft dog treats, small dog biscuits, liquid hand soap, paper towels, and gift cards from pet supply and grocery outlets.
To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit https://southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org