Chances are, we’ve all hit rough patches in life that drag us down, and sap our spirit. It isn’t uncommon for our furry little friends to mirror our demeanor…they seem to be anxious when we’re anxious, depressed when we’re depressed. While they have no idea what’s going on in our lives, they know that their best friend isn’t the same, and things have become very different in their world. Some pets work through life’s interruptions better than others. They switch their attention from us to other forms of entertainment…playing with toys, looking out the window, licking their paws, chewing things we might not want them to chew! Others seem to “shut down,” sleeping more than usual, hiding, losing interest in food, and generally withdrawing.
Rather than let their behavior add to our stress, there are simple adjustments we can make that will help both them and us weather the blues!
First, try to stick to a daily routine. Incorporate the elements that you’ve enjoyed together in the past. If you and your pet like long walks, and you haven’t done that lately, get out of the house and take a stroll…both of you will feel better! It doesn’t have to be long. Fresh air and the scents, sights and sounds of your neighborhood will provide a distraction and stimulation for both of you.
Second, work to maintain their mealtime routine. While a little deviation is fine, keep to the schedule you’ve always followed. If meals were served twice a day, leaving a full bowl for them to graze will only serve as a deterrent. A little attention from you will often restore their interest in eating. Be calm and encouraging…yelling or punishing them will create a problem that will endure long after balance is restored to your life.
Third, create new adventures between you either by incorporating a new toy or playtime event, or engaging in a new outdoor activity like frisbee, or visiting a dog park!
Most importantly, make time to snuggle. Our cats and dogs thrive on our touch and individual attention. While we’re helping them relax, and reassuring them that they hold a special place in our lives, we benefit by experiencing a decrease in our body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol.
In times of stress, try to find comfort by strengthening the bond that exists between you and your pets. Always remember, if you have any concerns about your pet’s behavior, your Veterinarian should always be your first stop!