It’s Time to Talk Day this week (4 February) and vet charity PDSA is highlighting the importance of checking in with our four-legged friends, to ensure that our pets aren’t feeling down-in-the-dumps.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing, says: “Many of us would be lost without the mood-boosting power of our pets. With Time to Talk Day taking place this week, it’s important to remember to keep our pets fit and active during lockdown, just as it’s important for us too. It helps keep our pets in shape and is vital for their mental health.
“Daily walks and playtime with your dog will help to decrease boredom. Adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of purposeful exercise, such as a walk, every day. Longer walks are usually better, depending on age, breed and health. Giving your dog plenty to do at home, such as puzzle feeders and playing lots of games, will help keep them mentally active in-between walks.
“Rabbits, like cats and dogs, can display unwanted behaviour – such as aggression – if they don’t have their needs met. They need to run, hide, chew and dig; boredom and frustration can make them do this in inappropriate places, if they aren’t given the right resources. They need plenty of hay, chew toys, space to run, shelter and a dig box.”
“Rabbits really aren’t happy living alone and loneliness can impact heavily on their mental health. Companionship is vitally important to bunnies but, sadly, half of all pet rabbits in the UK live alone. When something like normality resumes, finding the perfect pal for your rabbit and then bonding the bunnies will help to ensure that they are happy.”
Whereas rabbits thrive with the company of their own kind, cats enjoy a more solitary life, so during this time of lockdown it’s a good idea to monitor your cat for signs of stress.
Generally, cats prefer their own company. The stress of having to share their ‘territory’ can lead to serious medical problems such as cystitis and blocked bladders.
Intolerance towards other cats or people, spraying urine or soiling the house, scratching carpets or over-grooming can be symptoms of cat stress. But many cats will suffer in silence with less than ideal situations, so prevention is better than cure.
Nina advises: “It’s important your cats have a quiet space away. To help reduce stress in multi-cat households, you need to have multiple resources around the home so your cats don’t have to share.
“You should have one of every resource for each cat, plus an additional one. So if you have two cats you need at least three litter trays, food bowls, scratching posts, beds, high places, and water bowls. Remember, any sudden change in behavior in our pets can be a sign of a medical issue, so it’s important to keep an eye on them.”
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk