As many of us spend more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, now would seem the perfect time to take on a new pet to help brighten the days.
Pets can bring us so much comfort during these uncertain times and give us opportunities to go out and about for much-needed exercise and fresh air. That said, it is important to remember that some aspects of our pandemic lifestyle may change once restrictions are lifted. For example, some of us may find we have to be away from home for work—or we may want to spend some evenings out in the town socialising (if you can remember what that was!).
For a pet who has had an owner around the house during the pandemic, this can be extremely stressful and can lead to distressing new behaviours. Such behaviours can vary from the mildly annoying—such as barking or toileting—to more worrying acts of destruction or self-harm. We often have owners come to us at their wit’s end with anxious pets that cannot be left alone for more than a few minutes. We call this condition separation anxiety. This condition can take many months of treatment and training that takes its toll on the bond between pets and their owners.
If you are sure you will always be able to dedicate enough time and effort to a pet, the rewards can be endless. If you are certain a new pet is right for you, there are a few important things to look out for when choosing a puppy or kitten:
- Do some research into breeds that are likely to suit your lifestyle. If you are looking at taking on a very active and intelligent breed—such as Border Collies or Cocker Spaniels—then ask yourself, ‘Will I be able to provide the exercise and mental stimulation they need?’ It is also good to know what inherited diseases may be more common in certain breeds and consider whether you would be willing (or able) to provide treatments if needed.
- Take time to ensure that the person you are purchasing a puppy or kitten from is reputable. They should always be able to show you their mother, their littermates, and the conditions they have been raised in. They should also provide details of any health checks done on their parents, regular worming treatments, and whether they plan to have them vaccinated before leaving. This is more difficult under the restrictions of a pandemic, so make every effort to do your background checks before committing to buying.
- When looking at a litter, check out their skin and fur—there should be no dandruff or skin lesions. Their eyes and ears should not have any discharge and be generally clean. They should be bright and active (though bear in mind that, if you visit soon after feeding or playtime, they may be quite sleepy).
Our pet health experts are always on hand to give you all the advice you need when deciding whether to take on a new furry family member. They can discuss your requirements and make knowledgeable recommendations—helping you make the best choices on pet ownership.