lockdown pets

Human Animal Interaction

5 ways to help your pet through lockdown and reverse the trend of pet abandonment

According to the Kennel Club, one in four people in Britain admitted to impulse buying a puppy during lockdown and, at the height of the first lockdown in May 2020, demand for puppies rose by 104% compared to the same period in 2019. The trend was noticeable across the world, as people in the US and Japan took to shelters and breeders to adopt, foster or buy pets.  

Unfortunately, this boom in ‘lockdown pets’ has led to a huge increase in abandoned animals.

In January alone, Dogs Trust received 1,800 calls from people wanting to hand in dogs aged under a year old, with many of those calls coming just after Christmas on the 27 and 28 December. In Scotland, the SSPCA revealed that the number of calls about unwanted pets had increased by 130% between 1 September 2020 and 5 January 2021.

At Waltham, and across the entire Mars Petcare business, we’re dedicated to creating a BETTER WORLD FOR PETS, and we realise that new owners need access to the right advice and information to help reverse this worrying trend.

Reach out for help

If you’ve recently acquired a pet and you’re struggling, there is no need to suffer in silence. Caring for a pet, particularly a young puppy or kitten can be hard, but there are plenty of places where you can get help and advice:

Keep them active and entertained

Making sure your new cat or dog stays active during lockdown is essential to their overall health. Some dogs may not be getting the long outdoor walks they were used to before the pandemic, but indoor games and challenges can help pets keep off any extra pounds.

If you’re a cat owner, training them to play fetch with a toy, switching to dangling toys to capture their attention when you’re not around and getting them to work for their food can help them stay active and reduce their stress.

Download the interactive infographic below and try out even more tips and tricks from Dr. Joanna Gale.

Make sure they can cope with your absence

Changes in a dog’s or a cat’s routine can cause stress and anxiety, which can lead to unwanted behaviours. As we gradually start returning to our workplaces, some dogs may struggle with separation anxiety. This is why keeping a consistent, predictable routine that includes daily exercise and periods of “alone” time can help reduce stress when owners are away. Watch out for any signs of anxiety and if unsure, record a video of your dog while you’re away and consult your veterinarian.

Considering getting a pet? Preparation is the key to successful pet ownership

If you’re thinking about getting a pet, the best way to set yourself up for success is to arm yourself with enough information to decide if pet ownership is the right choice for you. Here are a few things to consider before you buy a pet:

  • Relationships with pets typically last for 10-15 years, so you must be in it for the long-haul, not just the lockdown.
  • Before you decide to get a pet, do your research. The charities and organisations listed above can also help you find out more about owning a pet and work out which pet is right for you.
  • Think about whether you have the time and energy to exercise and care for a pet, not just now, but when we come out of lockdown and everyone goes back to work and school.
  • Bear in mind the cost of caring for a pet: vets’ fees or insurance covering regular and, potentially, urgent care, food and any extra costs like pet sitters, equipment, training and grooming.
  • Make sure you know what kind of nutrition your pet needs to stay fit and healthy.

Find out more about a dog’s and a cat’s healthy weight, nutrition, and oral care needs.

Don't abandon your pet

If you really can’t cope and decide to give up your pet, the best thing to do is to contact a local animal shelter. Shelters will ensure your pet is safe, properly cared for and can hopefully be rehomed.

Shelters are also good places to find a pet. By adopting, you're giving not just giving that pet a second chance to find a happy home, but you might also save another pet. Learn more about the benefits of adopting a rescue cat or a dog.   

A life-long relationship

Owning a pet can bring many benefits. Research shows that pets can help to reduce stress, anxiety, social isolation and loneliness – all problems we face more than ever during lockdown. But before taking the plunge and get a pet, remember that you’re entering a long-term, two-way relationship. In return for the joy and companionship a pet brings to you, you must be to commit to provide them with a safe and caring home for life, not just for lockdown.