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    COVID-19: HOW IT AFFECTS THE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING OF OUR FOUR-LEGGED FAMILY MEMBERS

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COVID-19: HOW IT AFFECTS THE EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING OF OUR FOUR-LEGGED FAMILY MEMBERS

There has been a lot of talk about how we humans are feeling (coping) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there has been little discussion about how our emotions could, in turn, be disconcerting to our pets.  To ponder this further, D.O.G. Certified spoke with Dr. Deena Case-Pall, a consulting psychologist who works with pet owners, veterinarians, pet rescues, and animal control organizations to help we humans better understand our companion animals.

We asked Dr. Case-Pall, how does human anxiety affect our pets?  She told us that pets not only sense our levels of anxiety; they also have a chemical reaction to it. There have been medical studies (via blood analysis of humans and their dogs) that the stress chemicals in dogs rise to match that of their overanxious owners. These dogs also released oxytocin to help comfort their pet parent.

At this time, the routine of our daily lives has altered due to this worldwide pandemic. What we may fail to realize is that the routine of our pets has also adjusted due to family members now being home full-time.  “Most dogs love a routine. Even something like daylight saving time can upset that routine,” said Dr. Case-Pall. “Pet owners should best follow the habits they have established, such as feeding time and going for a walk, as best they can. However, if a new routine is required, set it up and then stick to it.”

Dr. Case-Pall suggests using this time at home for bonding and training.  Here are just a few of her recommendations:

  • Do things that stimulate both your pet’s brain and body
    • Brain games/puzzles for dogs
    • Play hide-and-seek in the house where family members hide, and take turns calling the dog to find them
    • Adding an additional brisk walk is always a good idea for both of you. It is an excellent way to see the world through your dog’s perspective
    • There is no limit to a dog’s vocabulary. You can teach them words through objects – KEYS, WALLET, GLASSES, and the names of family members.
  • Be careful not to give your pet more treats because you are home. Treats (always small and in limited quantities) should be used only for training, to encourage the learning of new behaviors.

All of us at D.O.G. Certified wish health and safety for you, your family, your neighbors, and our world. With this in mind, we have put up a page on our website, which will provide information regarding COVID-19 from both the FDA and the CDC. As always, it is our mission to Do Only Good for your dog’s health and the planet.