It’s Kitten Season! Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s Kitten Season! Here’s What You Need to Know

Spring has sprung, and that means that “kitten season” is here! While kittens are some of the most adorable creatures on the planet, kitten season can be overwhelming for animal shelters and rescues who end up caring for the abundance of tiny baby kitties that are born homeless.

Generally speaking, kitten season runs from March through October. However, in warmer climates like right here in southern California, kitten season actually happens twice per year. That’s because weather plays a big part in regulating the heat cycle in felines.

The timeline goes something like this: an unaltered female cat goes into heat (usually in early spring to late fall), she becomes pregnant, and 60 days later, she gives birth to her litter. Typically, a mama cat will give birth to between four and eight kittens.

When you consider that female cats can have more than one litter each year, it’s easy to see why the cat population grows so quickly. Shelters and rescues fill-up with kittens at this time of year, so if you have been thinking about adding a kitten to your family, we encourage you to visit a local shelter or rescue first. Also, consider adopting kittens in pairs if your situation provides for it. Kittens love having playmates, and it honestly doesn’t add any more work to have two versus one.

Here are some quick kitten stats!  

  • Felines are considered kittens until they have reached one year in age.
  • Kittens instinctively know to use a litter box.
  • All kittens are born with blue eyes, and their permanent eye color appears around four weeks of age.
  • A kitten can be spayed or neutered when they reach two pounds in body weight, typically at eight weeks of age.
  • Unaltered female cats can become pregnant at just four months old, so it is crucial to spay (and neuter) your kittens!

Spaying and neutering cats is the best way to control the pet population, and to help prevent overwhelmed shelters and rescues during kitten season. In some places, local officials have established trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs for community cats to help slow down this cycle. It has dramatically reduced the number of cats that are euthanized at community shelters.

If you’re looking for ways to get involved locally during kitten season, here are some things you can do!

  • Consider fostering a litter of kittens
  • Donate old towels, blankets, toys, food, litter, and more to a local animal shelter or rescue
  • Use social media to share posts about adoptable pets or fundraising efforts
  • Volunteer your time at a rescue or animal shelter
  • Ask your local shelter or rescue if they have an Amazon Wish List for supplies, and host a virtual “kitten shower” with your friends, coworkers and/or family members

While kittens are absolutely adorable, it’s very important to do your part in keeping kitten season under control for the rescues and animal shelters on the front lines. In an upcoming blog post, we will explore what you should do if you encounter newborn kittens with or without their mom.

If you’re interested in adopting, fostering or volunteering with Paw Prints In The Sand animal rescue, please reach out to us at info@pawprintsinthesand.org. We appreciate your ongoing support!

Author profile:
Kyle Colton is a freelance copywriter, flight attendant, and animal mom to Henri (a 13-year-old Landseer Newfoundland), Pearl (a 5-year-old PPITS alum kitty), and Ruby (a 2-year-old rescue kitty). 

Working From Home With Pets

Working From Home With Pets

So many of us have found ourselves working from home over the course of the last year. And for pet parents, this has caused an abrupt and unexpected change in routine for our four-legged family members. Let’s face it: our pets love having us at home, but it’s not exactly possible to explain to your pet why you can’t hang out with them all day long.

But you can’t exactly hide the fact that you’re home. Pets have an incredibly strong sense of hearing and smell, so there’s no disguising when their favorite humans are on the premises. Working from home with pets in the house can cause them to be confused about your availability, but there are ways to mitigate this by keeping a routine and structure in place. Here are some tips to keep your work-from-home balance in order, while also keeping your pets happy and healthy.

Establish Designated Eat, Play & Potty Times

Just like humans, our pets thrive when they have an established daily schedule. This especially pertains to eating, playing and potty breaks. Take some time to map out a daily routine where your pet’s schedule and your work schedule can live in harmony. Create a schedule for meals, play breaks and potty opportunities that you can schedule around your work commitments. This will keep your pet healthy and happy, while also allowing you to focus during your working hours. If you have to make adjustments because of last-minute things, don’t stress. Try to keep as much routine in place as possible.  

Create a Separate Pet-Free Work Space

In some ways, this may be easier said than done, especially if you have pets who aren’t fans of closed doors. But creating a pet-free work space will allow you to remain distraction-free while you’re working, taking conference calls, etc… If your pet nudges you or cries for attention, start working with them on a command like “place” where they know to retreat to their designated spot when this training word is said. This could be their bed, a different room, and so on. Remember: training takes time and patience, and this won’t be an immediate solution. But keep working toward your goal and you will get there together!

Put Together a “Boredom Box”

Pets are a lot like humans, and they can get bored in a hurry. Consider putting together a “boredom box” that’s filled with chew bones, food puzzles, toys, and more. While this may work better for our canine companions, there are lots of toys and items to help stimulate cats too. Grab a leftover cardboard box and create a fun place for them to hide or play. This can buy you some time while you work through an important project, especially if you have a pet who resorts to destruction when they get bored or left alone. You might also consider rotating your pets available toys/activities in the “boredom box” from week to week to help stimulate their interest.

Keep Things Consistent

As you and your pet(s) learn about the necessary boundaries that working from home requires, consistency will be key. Focus on the progress that you’re making together, and understand that creating routine will cut down on unnecessary anxiety and stress for your pets. You may be tempted to leave your desk in the middle of the day to play or go on a walk, but try to stick with your established routine as much as you can. It will be best for both of you! 

How have you been successful in transitioning to working from home with your pets? We would love to hear your tips and ideas! Feel free to leave us a comment below.

And if you’re interested in adopting, fostering or volunteering with Paw Prints In The Sand animal rescue, please reach out to us at info@pawprintsinthesand.org.

We appreciate your ongoing support!

Author profile:
Kyle Colton is a freelance copywriter, flight attendant, and animal mom to Henri (a 13-year-old Landseer Newfoundland), Pearl (a 5-year-old PPITS alum kitty), and Ruby (a 2-year-old rescue kitty). 

Caring for a Senior Pet

Caring for a Senior Pet

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month!

Here at PPITS, we love our senior pets. We even created a program called Murray’s Purpose for at-risk senior shelter pets.

If you’ve been thinking about adding a senior pet to your home, or if your current pet is starting to show signs of age, then it’s important to know how to care for these very special animals.

When you first adopted your pet, chances are they were young and full of vigor. But even puppies and kittens grow old. Or, maybe you decided to adopt a senior pet because well, they’re amazing!

Thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine and more owner awareness, pets are living longer now than they ever have before – but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. It’s important to know what happens in the pet aging process. It’s really no different from humans as we grow old. Here are some things to expect as your pet gets older (Note: you may not experience all of these, or any of these, but these are things we commonly see when it comes to seniors):

  • Decrease in energy
  • Development of cataracts
  • Hearing loss
  • Arthritis and loss of bone density
  • Bowel and/or bladder issues
  • Increased risk of risk of kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or becoming obese

While these all sound serious, and they can be, there are ways to mitigate these common senior pet health issues so you can keep your senior pet happy, healthy, comfortable, and free of stress during their golden years.

Feed them an age-appropriate diet

Senior pets have different dietary requirements than younger pets, so it’s important to feed them a diet that is appropriate for their age and dietary needs. Because senior pets tend to be more sedentary than puppies or kittens, they are more likely to gain weight. They don’t have the energy they used to. A low-fat diet with fewer calories is recommended to keep your pet at a healthy weight.

Talk to your veterinarian about foods that provide the balance of nutrition they will need. If your senior pet has digestive allergies or skin problems, they will need a diet that includes the right protiens. Your pup may be allergic to a variety of foods including wheat, dairy, chicken, and eggs, so find them a food that won’t trigger an immune response.

Regular exercise

Even though your senior pet has slowed down and doesn’t have the energy they used to, it is still very important that they maintain a regular exercise routine. This will help your pet maintain a healthy weight and it’s beneficial to their overall health. Talk to your vet about the right exercises for your senior pet. However, it’s best to keep exercises low-key with walks or light jogs. This is especially important if you adopted a senior pet as they likely didn’t receive the care they needed throughout their lives, so they will need to start slow and work their way up.

We also recommend mental exercises to keep your pet’s mind healthy and active. There are some great games for your senior dog or cat that will not only help keep them mentally stimulated; these are great exercises if your senior pet doesn’t get around well any more.  

 Pay attention to their teeth.

Dogs and cats alike require dental care. The Drake Center for Veterinary Care in California notes that cats over the age of four can develop gingivitis and periodontal disease. The older they get, the more alarming these issues can be. Dogs are likewise at risk of oral health concerns. Bad breath, visible plaque, and reduced appetite are all signs that your aging pup is dealing with tooth problems. You can offset many of these issues by brushing your dog’s teeth. Dental chews and water additives may also help if your dog doesn’t like their teeth being touched or are visibly uncomfortable when doing so.

Regular vet visits

Older animals tend to have more healthcare requirements with each passing year. Your vet may recommend a senior blood panel to check heart, liver, and kidney function. Because pets tend to develop health issues like the ones previously mentioned, it is likely you will be seeing your vet more frequently, which can get very expensive. Sadly, because of this, so many senior pets end up in our shelters because their owners cannot afford their care. Therefore, it is very important to be financially prepared for your senior pet’s medical needs.

You may be able to get pet insurance to offset medical expenses. Before you buy, look into various plans to find out if they cover the services you need and accept older pets. Most do not cover any pre-existing conditions, but do your research. We recommend pet insurance by the ASPCA, but there are other quality pet insurance providers. 

Make your home senior pet friendly

While you probably don’t need to add wheelchair access to your home to accommodate an aging animal, there are a few things you can do to make it easier for them to get around. Older pets tend to develop bone and joint problems as they age, which could affect their mobility. This is why we recommend making certain accommodation for your senior pet.

If your dog sleeps on the bed or lay on the couch, a pet ramp can help them get to their sleeping spot without trying to jump. Likewise, if you notice that they slip and slide on tile or hardwood floors, consider adding non-skid runners throughout their preferred path.

Regular grooming

As your pet ages, it’s likely that their coat will start to lose its luster. Seniors often suffer with dry, flaky skin. If you have a long-haired pet, we recommend you brush your pet regularly to avoid mats and tangles. Also, use natural oatmeal-based shampoos to help nourish dry, irritated skin.

As you can see, taking care of an older animal is not that different from taking care of yourself when your own hair starts to gray. It requires both mental and physical exercise, proper nutrition, a relationship with their health care professional, and a few simple home modifications. These tips can help you help your beloved pet thrive and enjoy their sunset years.

Note sure when or if your pet is considered a senior? Check out this chart by the American Veterinary Medical Association for more information.

How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet

How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet

They say our pets are like family. I say, they’re not “like” family; they are family, and when you lose one, it’s a like a part of your heart and soul gets ripped out and taken with them.

As the co-founder of PPITS, I’ve seen my fair share of pet loss. It is absolutely devastating on so many levels. As an NLP certified personal development coach, I have helped many friends, family members, and colleagues through the end of life stages of their pets.

I always get the “when will I know it’s time?” question when someone is dealing with a senior pet who’s health is on a serious or rapid decline. The only answer I can ever give is “you’ll know when.” Other than the physical signs of suffering, pets have an uncanny ability of letting us know when they’re ready to go. Sometimes, they’ll go on their own terms. Either way, it’s never easy.

“People often minimize the significance of losing a pet, but in reality, the loss can be experienced as more painful than the loss of a human friend or family member,” said Arolyn Burns, M.A. LMFT, LPCC. “Pets give us unconditional love. There’s no conflict over race, religion, or politics. They don’t judge us, and there’s no bitterness or resentment. The pain can be quite significant and last a very long time.”

Losing a pet can be especially difficult if you’re single and have no children. Your pets are your children. They are often your sole source of daily companionship.

And now, with the fear, uncertainty, and isolation due to COVID, our pets have become an even greater source of comfort and companionship. Losing one during this time can be even more devastating.

So how do you get past that level of grief?

1.Seek help. Don’t go it alone. Contact a grief counselor, therapist, or yours truly. In her book, On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s important to have an experienced and grounded ear to help you cycle through these phases. “The grief can be crippling. If it is causing a significant impact on your life, please seek help from a licensed professional therapist,” said Burns.

2. Be ok with your grief. Everyone experiences grief differently. Some feel guilty about grieving a pet. Often times that’s due to societal judgements: “It was just a dog…” (or cat, bird, guinea pig, bearded dragon, what have you). No, “it” was so much more to you than anyone could ever imagine, especially if it was what we call your “heart pet”. My heart cat was named Vivian. When she passed, that was it. There will never be another cat like Vivian to me, and therefore I shall never have another cat. I am more than happy to rescue them, but to me, Viv was the cat’s meow of cats.

3. Know that grief has no timeline. We’ve had so many adopters tell us they lost their beloved pet and just couldn’t bring themselves to adopt another one for a certain amount of time. Some come to us within one week of their pet’s passing. For others, it took years. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, don’t rush through the process and force yourself to try to feel better. Often, those who live alone grieve for longer because their pet was such a focal point of their lives. The same is true for those who lose a therapy pet or service animal. The pet wasn’t ‘just a pet’. There was a deeper bond as he or she performed specific tasks, which enabled their owner to have a better quality of life.

4. Consider a ‘transition’ pet. People often come to us to adopt a younger pet because their current pet is getting old, and they want another to help with the transition when the older one eventually passes. Having the other pet there automatically fills the void that the family would have felt with the loss. It allows them to maintain their routine and gives them something to continue to focus on and care for. The concept of adopting a transition pet tends to be more common with people who are single. they don’t want to be left alone. Often times, the younger pet serves as a companion for the older one, which can give them a new lease on life and increases their lifespan.

5. Practice self care. Losing a pet can take an extreme emotional toll, which can zap your energy. Look after your emotional needs during this time. Try to avoid stressful situations and the negativity of social media. Meditate, spend personal time with friends and family, eat healthy, get out in nature, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. These things are recommended under normal circumstances, but they are especially important when you’re going through the grief process.

Other recommendations:

  • Create a legacy by planting a tree, flowers, or creating a memorial for your pet.

However you handle the painful loss of your pet, grief is a normal process and should be taken very seriously. “Losing a pet is a significant loss. It is going to going to hurt. Don’t ignore it or avoid it,” said Burns.

Being open to feelings of grief and taking time to work through your sorrow will help the healing process. Eventually, you will get to the point where you can only look back with fond memories of your beloved pet with a mended heart and soul.

Disaster Preparedness: What To Do in the Event of An Emergency

Disaster Preparedness: What To Do in the Event of An Emergency

When disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, or fires strike a community, the impact reaches not only people but also resident livestock and companion animals. The impact on animals can include animals getting stranded and needing rescue, or permanent separation of companion animals from their owners or fosters.

Recent disasters highlighted the need for emergency response plans that include provisions for pet evacuations and to communicate relevant information to our fosters and volunteers. It is important for the Animal Emergency Preparedness Plan to be flexible and scalable, providing the protocols needed in the event of any disaster.

What To Do in the Event of An Emergency

If you have to evacuate please take all pets in the home, including foster pets. If it’s not safe for you to remain in your home, then it is not safe for the pets in your home to remain either.

Evacuate early. Don’t wait for an emergency evacuation order. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.

Be Prepared!

1.    Check for and prevent any hazards that may already exist in your home such as:

  • Propane tanks – ensure they are safely kept
  • Monitor candles and heat emitting appliances such as ovens, stove, or clothes iron
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets
  • Test smoke alarms frequently to ensure they are in working order
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it
  • Prevent carbon monoxide leaks by having your HVAC system, water heater, and other appliances that use gas, oil, or coal serviced by a professional every year
  • Make sure to always keep anything that gives off heat at least 3 feet away from flammable materials or items
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is checked and cleaned by a professional once a year. Use a metal or glass screen that is large enough to prevent escaping embers
  • Check the testing labels on all major appliances that indicate you purchased them in safe working order. You may not find testing labels on older appliances, so consider whether it’s time to replace them or have them checked by a professional.
  • Avoid cluttering debris or junk near a furnace, heater or nay heat source

2.    Make sure that all information on identification tags and microchips are current and that both include your cell phone number and the contact information of a backup contact.

3.    Prepare a disaster kit that includes:

  • Food & water for at least 5 days
  • Bowls
  • Manual can opener
  • Medications and vet records
  • Litter, litter boxes and/or poopie bags
  • Harnesses, collars with tags (preferably martingale collars so your dog can’t “back out” of the collar in fear), leashes and crates/carriers

4.    In the event another foster home is needed, write down anything a temporary foster may need to know about your pet(s) and foster pet(s) including behavior, feeding times, any medical issues, medication, etc.

5.    Develop an evacuation transport plan including where pets will immediately go in an emergency (car, neighbor’s house, etc). Determine the number of crates or carriers needed, and an emergency destination (Red Cross or FEMA shelter, family or friend’s house, vet’s office, etc.).

  • Contact hotels/motels that are at least 50 miles from you to see if they take pets during an emergency.
  • Other essential supplies to store in a secure room in the home:

    • Nonperishable food
    • Bottled water
    • Battery-powered radios
    • First-aid supplies
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • Duct tape
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Plastic garbage bags

Fires and Emergency Situations in the Home

In the event of a fire or emergency situation, call 9-1-1 immediately! Then:

  • Notify all people in your home as soon as possible by sounding any form of alarm- air horn, whistle, smoke alarm, or verbal.
  • Provide instructions to all occupants of the home as to where to exit and where to go once they exit the home.
  • Once all occupants including pets in the home are safe and emergency personnel have arrived on the scene, contact a friend or family member to notify them of the emergency and your location. Also provide an alternate contact number for anyone who is with you.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to fight a fire that has passed the incipient stage (that which can be put out with a single fire extinguisher), nor should you attempt to enter a burning building to conduct search and rescue. These actions should be left to emergency services professionals who have the necessary training, equipment, and experience (such as the fire department or emergency medical professionals). Untrained individuals may endanger themselves and/or those they are trying to rescue.

Evacuation Routes

Develop an evacuation route plan of your home, assign a Designated Assembly Area or Evacuation Site for your home.

  • Designated Assembly Area (DAA) is an outside location at least 50 feet from the building, away from roads and walkways used by emergency vehicles
  • Evacuation Site (ES) a building in close proximity to the evacuated building that will provide protection from the weather or other elements in the case of a prolonged evacuation.

If an emergency occurs while at home or work, local emergency personnel will instruct and direct you to the nearest DAA or ES.

Discuss all emergency evacuation plans with all members of your household.

  • Appoint 1-2 people responsible for evacuation assistance in your home.
  • In the event that a fire/emergency alarm is sounded or instructions for evacuation are given:

    • Everyone should immediately exit the premises/building(s) at the nearest exits, as shown in the escape route
    • Meet as soon as possible at the Designated Assembly Area.
    • The people responsible for evacuation are to check all rooms for occupants and pets.
    • Once a room has been checked and cleared, close the door to that room, but leave it unlocked. This will decrease the chances of a fire spreading.
    • Leave home exit doors open to allow any pets that may remain to escape to the outdoors. If you must, break a window to the room where you think pets may be hiding.

Securing Property and Equipment

In the event that evacuation of the premises is necessary make sure that gas mains, electricity breaker boxes and water mains are shut off.  Determine who in your home will be responsible for shutting off this equipment in your home.

Accounting for members of your household after an evacuation

Once a home evacuation has occurred to an evacuation site, an adult should account for each person and pet that was in the home and report this to emergency personnel.

Home Evacuation Re-entry

Once your home has been evacuated, do not re-enter it for any reason. All members of the home should remain at the Designated Assembly Areas or Evacuation Sites until the fire department or other emergency response agency notifies you that either it is safe to re-enter, or if relocation to a new location is discussed and determined.

Sheltering in Place: When not to evacuate

In the event of an emergency where authorities may determine that it is safer to remain where you are rather than evacuate in such instances as chemical, biological, or radiological contaminates have been released into the environment in such quantity and/or proximity to your home, please follow all instructions by emergency personnel and do the following:

  • Immediately lock exterior doors and close windows, doggy doors, and air vents.
  • Turn off, seal, or disable all fans, heating and air conditioning systems, and clothes dryers, especially those systems that automatically provide for exchange of inside air with outside air.
  • If there is a danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains.
  • Ensure all pets are inside.

If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance. A safe room is a room that has no windows or exposure to the outside such as a walk-in closet, bathroom, basement or underground shelter.  Bring all supplies listed above (pet crate and supplies, any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.) If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.

Write down the names of everyone in the home and inform emergency personnel outside of the building of who is in the room. Listen to the radio, monitor TV, phone or check Facebook updates. Do not come out until you know it’s safe and have been instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

Reporting Emergency Situations

All emergency situations must be reported as soon as possible. Emergency situations may include but are not limited to fires, earthquakes, floods, vehicle accidents during animal transport, injuries incurred by human or animal from bites and animal injuries incurred during physical exercise.

We want to ensure all members of your home are safe and accounted for in case of an emergency – both people and pets. For more information and tips on emergency situations, please visit the Red Cross and FEMA web sites. Also, please contact your local animal shelter and discuss their emergency plans for animal evacuations. You should also contact neighbors, family and friends to discuss emergency plans.

 

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How to Handle Your Pets’ Stress During a Crisis

How to Handle Your Pets’ Stress During a Crisis

In times of crisis, there is no better companion than a pet. There are countless articles and research showing the mental and health benefits that come with caring for a pet. Pets are wonderful at helping us cope with stress, and there is no better time for the unconditional love and companionship that only a pet can provide during this time of crisis.

Pets have evolved to be attuned to their humans’ feelings and emotions. In the same way that we learn their likes and dislikes, they also learn about our emotions, behaviors, and and our stress levels. Pets can even learn our mannerisms and know what they can expect from us. Many pets can help us cope with stress and anxiety. However, because dogs and cats are the most affectionate of pets, they can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise, weight loss, and improve our cardiovascular health .

But what happens to our pets when our stress and anxiety is too much to handle?“We might see an uptick in depressive behavior like trouble sleeping, losing their appetite, not wanting to play or seeming listless.” — Ettel Edshteyn, a certified trainer at Karen Pryor Academy and owner of New York City’s Poodles to Pit Bulls Clicker Training

We are going through an unprecedented crisis with a global pandemic, social distancing, and quarantine restrictions. These are very uncertain times with heightened concerns about our health, the economy, jobs, our children, elderly family members, and if we can even get the every day necessities.

Because of the added fear and stress of it all, we may be projecting certain behaviors and emotions that our pets may be unaccustomed to.

Studies have shown that pets mirror their owners’ personalities. Researchers in Austria found that dogs can mirror the anxiety and negativity of owners. A study from the University of Vienna found that both owners and dogs influenced each other’s coping mechanisms with the human partner being more influential than the dog. So, during this time, we should expect that some dogs and even cats will be acting out in response to our current state of emotion, stress, or anxiety.

“Dogs are deeply sensitive to human emotions, especially in their particular guardians.” — Sally Morgan, a holistic physical therapist for pets and people, as well as the author of “Dances of the Heart — Connecting with Animals.”

Most of the behaviors that we can expect to see in dogs are associated with how nervous they may be feeling. Dogs do not understand why their owners are stressed, sad or angry, but they will react in many different ways. Expected behaviors associated with nervousness can include:Excessive Barking — Your dog is suddenly barking at unusual hours when he or she typically doesn’t bark such as in the middle of the night; excessive barking when someone comes to your door; or unexplained barking out of nowhere.

  • Hiding — Your pup may display increased shaking; hiding in their crate, or other secluded areas, not wanting to come out.

  • Excessive whining — This will likely occur at the most inopportune moments accompanied by excessive neediness. It is important that you do not pet your dog if this is happening as this tells your dog that he or she is being rewarded for the behavior, and you may be encouraging the behavior to continue further.

  • Aggression — Getting into scuffles and fights with other dogs in the home; unforeseen aggression towards other pets in the home and even in the most extreme cases; reactivity towards you, such as leash reactivity during a walk.

  • Destructive behavior — Chewing your things; having accidents in the house; destroying their own things like blankets or crates.

All of these behaviors are associated with a dog’s fight or flight response. Aggressive behaviors may occur out of fear, or as a way to let go of pent up negative energy.

In cats, you may see certain behaviors such as:

  • Excessive excitability- Biting or scratching when being petted, which is not uncommon during normal times, but it may happen more frequently or suddenly.

  • Hyperactivity — zoomies and unexpected chasing and pouncing on your legs or feet while you are out and about your home.

  • Destructive behaviors — extra clawing on items where they are not allowed on and excessive destruction of our most prized and cherished toilet paper.

  • Roaming — In extreme cases, your cat may want to venture in the outdoors. This is especially dangerous for indoor cats that may not be familiar with their external environment.

So, how should we handle these behaviors at a time when our emotions are running at an all-time high? Awareness is the first step. Being aware of our own feelings and being mindful of our emotions and addressing them or doing something to keep our stress and negative emotions at bay will help us to avoid unwanted behaviors in our pets.

We must realize that dogs are very intuitive and our body language alone can show stress without us even saying a word. They notice when we are tense and when something is wrong. It’s very important that you try to remain calm and do activities that help you relax and your pet relax such as:

  • Exercising and going on walks with your dog — this is a wonderful way to let go of some of the stress and to help your pup release some negative pent up energy. However, it is important that you start your walk in a calm, relaxed manner rather than the typical excitement that is often created when taking your dog out for a walk. Starting the walk from a more relaxed state will help to prevent your dog from demonstrating unwanted behaviors.

  • Meditate — taking time for yourself is vitally important all the time, but especially now when there is so much uncertainty, daily routines are off, and there’s more stress in general in the home and our world. Meditating first thing in the morning helps to create a sense of calm and clarity, which not only helps you; it can also help your pet.

  • Maintaining a routine — With more people working from home and kids out of school, your normal daily routine is likely “off”. This is not only a big adjustment for you; it’s also a big adjustment for our pets. Pets, especially dogs are more settled when they have a routine and structure. Try to keep your routine as close to ‘normal’ as possible especially when it comes to walking and feeding times.

  • Keep them entertained — In a time of quarantine, your dog’s unwanted behavior is likely due to their inability to go outside, especially if you live in an apartment or condo community. Keep your pooch entertained with puzzle toys or treat dispensers. . You can make your own puzzle toys with items you already have around your home.

Two simple puzzles that will entertain your dog:

Box Puzzle: If you have empty boxes, arrange them on the floor and hide treats in some of the boxes. Show your dog the boxes and let your pup use its nose to find the hidden treats. Rearrange the boxes with more treats.

Cupcake Puzzle: Get an empty cupcake or muffin pan and 12 (or as many as you have) tennis balls. Place treats or pieces of your dog’s kibble into some but not all of the pan’s cups, and cover all of the cups with the tennis balls. Show your dog the tray and see how long it takes for him or her to move the right balls and find the hidden food. Each time you play, change where you place the treats.

To address excitability in your cat, be mindful of his or her body language. You can get an idea of your kitty’s stress levels by looking into their eyes. If his or her pupils are dilated, and they flick their tail up and down, then it’s time to stop petting him or her and leave them alone.

Hyperactivity and destructive behaviors can be addressed by providing additional exercise with things such as a feathered toy, a laser pointer, or even playing fetch. Also keep you cat(s) away from the prized items by using a compressed air pet corrector, deterrent scents such as citronella, lavender, peppermint, lemongrass and orange.

Finally, when these behaviors occur during this time, don’t hold it against your pet or punish him or her for it. Be aware of the situation and remain calm. Provide guidance to your pet by responsibly correcting him or her so he/she understands that this behavior is unwanted. Help your pet by using one of the recommendations mentioned above. In the end, a tired pet is a happy and good pet.

If you are experiencing difficulties with your pet during this time, we’d love to help. Feel free to reach out to us at info@pawprintsinthesand.org. We want to make sure you and your pet(s) are happy and safe during this time and always.