Pet owners note behavioral changes in their cats and dogs during the coronavirus pandemic

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Monday, April 20, 2020
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Stay-at-home orders causing noted change in behavior of some pets

While the impact of this pandemic has ranged from absolute boredom to more serious things like job losses and health issues, some of our pets are coping in their own ways.

A local veterinarian who focuses on animal behavior and stress is not surprised to hear our pets are stressed, too.

Matt O'Donnell spoke with Dr. Carlo Siracusa of Penn's Ryan Veterinary Hospital about Bailey, his generally happy and spoiled 8-year-old Shichon.

Matt said a few days after the stay-at-home orders took effect, Bailey noticed something was different and he didn't like it.

"He seemed afraid at times, extra-observant about our behavior and a little spooked," he said.

Dr. Siracusa said the change at home can be abrupt for your pet.

"They get to set their own routine according to our previous schedule and then suddenly we decide that we are going to completely change the schedule, right? And completely invade their space," Siracusa said.

Listen to Matt's entire conversation with Dr. Siracusa (and Bailey) in the True Philadelphia Podcast

Bailey's good buddy Rocky, a Jack Russell Terrier who belongs to Jessica Boyington, had an opposite reaction to these times.

Because he is so clingy, Jessica thinks Rocky wishes this will never end.

"He actually is great," Jessica says. "He loves this. I know that sounds awful, but I mean, he doesn't know the difference so I'm just home all the time."

If your pet has been acting strange or just having trouble dealing with this new normal, Dr. Siracusa says to ease the stress by doing something real easy: give Fido or Tabby some space.

"And give time. Give time means you should try to keep as much as you can your daily schedule similar to what it used to be and to make sure your pet has his or her quiet time."

One more thing: Dr. Siracusa adds once these stay-at-home orders are lifted and things move to a new normal, that can be stressful for pets too. If you can, ease your dog or cat into your new schedule, and don't make such an abrupt change.


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