It is hard to believe that summer is winding down and it is already time to go back to school, and for those of you lucky enough to have summers off, back to work. Even though autumn is my favorite time of the year, I always find it a little difficult to get back into the new routine that fall brings. There are so many tasks that need taken care of around the house in preparation of that OTHER season that lurks behind fall (I refuse to utter its frigid name!). The days start getting shorter, wreaking havoc on everyone’s sleep schedules, only to awaken to find it is still dark outside- oh the humanity! And could someone please explain to me why summer goes by so fast and winter creeps by ever so slowly? Maybe it’s just me, but my dog seems to agree.
Our pets experience the same feelings we do when schedules change. They are true creatures of habit and grow comfortable and accustomed to the schedules we create, whether intentional or not. Have you ever noticed the first few days after the time change how your pets will be alerting you that it is feeding time an hour early? Both our dogs have done this, as well as most of our cats. I always hear people say that their pets seem to know how to tell time. They do! I am convinced they even know the difference between certain days of the week, proven to me by our late dog, Brody. Brody clearly knew the difference between Saturday and Sunday mornings. Every Sunday morning my husband Brian would take Brody to the park and pick up the newspaper. It was their “special” trip together. Brody enjoyed this very much-so much so that we could not say the word “paper” or excitement ensued! The trip would occur anywhere between 8am and Noon. On the rare occasion Brian was not out of bed by 8, Brody developed a special “paper” wake up to let him know it was time to go. In the 12 years they had this routine he never awoke Brian on Saturday mornings.
Pets pick up on our routines so well. Brody knew me showering in the morning meant I had to go to work. He would lay on the bathmat outside the tub and pout. I wear slippers inside the house. When he would see me change into shoes, he knew I was going outside and would stare at his leash, then stare at my feet, repeatedly. Pablo, our chihuahua, does the same thing. Shoes are his signal. When we had our first two cats, Tropicana and Renfield, we traveled a lot. If they saw the suitcases out, they knew we were leaving. They would climb inside and refuse to get out. They also would hold terrible grudges for days upon our return. Even though I am pretty certain they were spoiled the entire time we were away!
Even the full moon may affect our pets. According to a study done by the Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center, emergency vet care during a full moon increases 23% for cats and 28% for dogs. Similarly, the number of humans seeking emergency care for animal bites doubles surrounding a full moon. However, it is not proven whether this is due to the full moon or that people and animals spend more time outside when it is lighter out. I know for a fact that the full moon affected/ affects some of our cats. Not all of them, but the ones that are get CRAZY! So much so that I know when it is a full moon, or coming upon one, based on their erratic behavior.
A sad time for our pets is also a sad time for parents- sending your kids off to college. Whether it is for the first time or after a summer having their “brother or sister” back home, it is hard on our pets and it takes some time for them to adjust. If you know or suspect your pet will be experiencing this, give them an unwashed pillowcase with their “sibling’s” scent on it to sleep with for a few days. It is simple and it is comforting. This is great for all situations of “separation anxiety”.
A new baby in the family is a joyous event but it can be an adjustment for the pets in your life and including them in the journey is crucial. A really great help during this big adjustment is CBD oil. I am actually assisting two new sets of parents in helping their anxious pets adjust to all the strange sounds, scents and schedule changes a new baby brings into their world. In fact, the new parents are Maureen’s brother and sister-in-law, and Maureen’s cousins, both babies born 3 days apart! Congratulations and welcome to the world, babies Madeline and Quinn! I am happy to report that all three dogs and a cat are happy and accepting their new baby sisters perfectly. Another great tip if your pet is still adjusting to baby in the house is the clothing/receiving blanket that smells like baby, for your pet to sleep with and get accustomed to.
Some things I found to be absolute necessities with Brody for his separation anxiety were puzzle toys. He had a hard-plastic ball, shaped like a die, that could be filled with small treats or food. He had to roll it around and figure out how to get the treats to come out. It was his favorite toy for 10+ years. He had a few others, but the die was his favorite. It even had numbers on each side like a casino die! There are a variety of puzzle toys and feeders to help enrich their lives and curb boredom. Frozen, raw bones are a great occupier for dogs. In fact, my neighbors are having a cookout as I write this and my barky chihuahua continues to sing the song of his people. I finally sacrificed my pork chop bone from what is about to be my dinner to buy a few golden moments of silence. And I tell you, it was worth the sacrifice! Not only are they a great, healthy, natural treat, they double as teeth cleaners. Always a win!
For cats, making sure they have plenty of toys around to occupy them is helpful. Some tried and true winners are the Cat Dancer wire toy, made of wire and cardboard (It mimics a flying insect), kitty springs and laser pointers. All retail for under $3 each. A window ledge, where they can safely watch the outside world is also a welcome addition to kitty’s life. There are many hammocks, perches, towers and shelves available in varying sizes and price ranges. There are also interactive feeders that make feeding time more exciting. These are also great for overweight cats or overeaters, as they slow the feeding process down and also offer portion controls. Most retail between $20 and $30.
Of course, I cannot end a blog without sounding like a broken record. CBD oil is the greatest help when there is a big life change and your dog or cat is not adjusting well. (that statement goes for most human cases, as well) ESPECIALLY the loss of another pet. When they lose an animal companion their worlds have been severely disrupted. Even just using oil with them for a month, to get them through the initial loss can be a great help. I will share something personal. When we lost Brody is when I began taking CBD oil regularly myself. I firmly believe it was an integral part of helping me heal.
My philosophy about sharing our lives with pets is that they are here to help enrich our lives. In turn we need to be sure to enrich theirs. Otherwise they will not be fulfilled and there will not be harmony in the home. We then lose focus as to why we have pets in our families in the first place. Noticing and understanding a change in behavior early in your pet (after ruling out any physical maladies) and finding ways to enrich his life make it so we can all enjoy this special bond we create with our pets. Happy Fall!