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Mayfield Vets - Henley House Veterinary Clinic Henley House Vetinary Clinic Logo Mayfield Vets - Henley House,
84 High Street, TN21 8JD
Heathfield,
heathfield@henleyhousevets.co.uk 01435865887 Henley Hosue Vets, Uckfield
Your local independent Heathfield vets
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Enrichment for Pets

Our pets have become used to us spending more time at home with them over the last few years, with lockdowns, homeworking, and periods of self-isolation keeping us all in the house for longer. We may be pleased that things are now getting back to normal, but some of our pets may have a hard time adjusting to us being out of the house more often, especially if they have not known life to be any different.

If your dog or cat seems to be struggling with the change, then here are a few things you can try to keep them happy and amused whilst you are out.

Dogs

Dogs are social creatures and can miss having people around during the day. Some can also become anxious, especially if they are not used to being left on their own. If your dog is showing signs of anxiety when left alone, then consider speaking to a qualified veterinary behaviourist about ways to help them with this. Otherwise, try these little changes to keep them happy and occupied.

Food Puzzles

If you have a dog who enjoys their food, then why not try making mealtimes a little more fun – and challenging? Food puzzles are a great way to engage your dog’s brain and make them work a little for their meal and can also be a great way to help them settle when you are out of the house.

There is a wide range of different toys out there but be careful to select one that is safe to leave with your dog whilst they are unattended. Hard plastics, or those with lots of small parts, may be better used under supervision to prevent our dogs from swallowing something that they shouldn’t.

Screen Time

Having the TV or radio on in the background can often be soothing for dogs who are anxious when left on their own, but did you know that there are now dedicated TV channels for dogs? They broadcast content that has been designed to engage and soothe dogs and can help keep them happy when you are out.

If you don’t want to go for the full doggy experience, then leaving the TV or radio on at a low volume can help your dog to relax and react less to sounds outside the house that might otherwise startle them.

Toys

If your dog enjoys playing with toys, then this can be another great way to keep them amused when you are out. Dogs enjoy novelty, so try not to leave the same toys out each day – if you have a box to store them in, then a few different options each day to keep it varied. Again, it is important to make sure that these toys are unlikely to be broken or swallowed by your dog.

Dog Walkers

If you are out of the house for long periods of time, why not consider getting someone to come and walk your dog during the day? This could be a friend or neighbour, or someone who you pay for the service. Even a short walk during a long day at home can make a big difference – and gives your dog a toilet break, too!

Cats

Cats have less of a need for social interaction than dogs, but can still easily become bored at home, particularly if they are indoor-only cats.  Some of the things that you can try are similar to the ideas for dogs, but some are quite different!

Food Puzzles

In the wild, cats would naturally have to work for their food by hunting their prey. A puzzle feeder can give your cat some mental and physical stimulation whilst they eat and also helps to stop them from bolting their food.

You can buy lots of different kinds of food puzzles, and it’s best to have a couple of different ones so you can swap between them regularly. You can also make your own using cardboard!

Timed Feeders

Cats would naturally eat small amounts, many times throughout the day. In fact, given the choice, cats have around 16 small meals per day! However, we don’t usually have the time to offer our cats food this often, especially if we are out. Timed feeders can be a great way of spreading out your cats’ meals over the day, giving them natural stimulation whilst you are out of the house.

Toys

Many cats enjoy playing with toys – especially ones that mimic their natural hunting patterns, including chasing and catching. However, cats are easily bored, and will often stop playing with older toys after a while. To avoid this, you should only have around a third of their toys available for them to play with at any one time – keep the rest stored away from reach in a cupboard or garage. Regularly swapping toys will help to keep your cat interested and give them something to do whilst you are out.

Conclusion

Cats and dogs are both creatures of habit and can find changes to their routine to be difficult to deal with. Providing them with some extra stimulation when you are out of the house can sometimes be helpful, but there are cases where the situation is more complex. If you and your pets are struggling with changes at home, then speak to one of our vets for advice and support.   

Enrichment for pets