Experts say pets also impacted by pandemic, urge province to reopen groomers

CENTRE WELLINGTON — Changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic can have a big impact on four-legged family members, local pet experts say.

“There are many ways our companion animals are being affected in their health, behaviour and welfare by all of this,” said Jessica Ing, resident dog trainer at Dreamland Pets in Elora.

She said although many pets are loving the extra attention they’re getting – it can also be anxiety inducing for shyer pets used to being home alone.

“Having so much time with our companions can sometimes have consequences,” said Ing.

One of the consequences she talked about was separation-related behaviour, otherwise known as separation anxiety, which happens when a pet experiences distress when their “person” leaves them alone.

“There’s a lot of pet guardians that may already be concerned about how their animals are going to cope with them going back to school or back to work,” Ing said, adding the behaviour is not exclusive to dogs.

“Many people are surprised to know that cats can actually have separation-related behaviours too … so can companion birds.”

To help pets avoid developing anxiety, Ing suggests  leaving them home alone when possible and creating a regular schedule they can rely on for things like feeding and play.

“By doing that you are giving them a sense of normalcy, control and predictability,” she said.

“We know that for basically all animals that can help reduce stress and anxiety and the more we can help reduce our pet’s anxiety – the more they can help reduce ours.”

A pet’s health – and specifically a lack of access to grooming services – is another COVID-19 concern being raised by pet experts.

“We certainly know that for some breeds getting groomed regularly (is important),” said Ing.

“Nail clippings, ear cleanings, or for many of them, their coats are going to require regular care …

“A dog’s welfare can certainly be impacted in the event that a long time passed and they are unable to get into those services.”

Veronica Negrin, owner of Pinetree Pet Resort in Centre Wellington, is part of a campaign by various grooming associations and groups to lobby the province to deem pet groomers essential.

“Pet grooming is important because we are providing care for the health and welfare of living beings that are in people’s homes,” Negrin wrote to the Advertiser.

She added she believes grooming can be offered without compromising proper COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Pet owners don’t want to neglect their pets, and most are unable to manage the nails and coats,” shew said.

Negrin is asking pet owners and groomers to ask their MPP and veterinarians  for supports of reopening pet grooming operations as soon as possible.

Dog walking businesses that follow COVID-19 safety procedures have been approved to reopen by the province, and with several petitions online, many are hoping groomers will be next in line to get the go-ahead.