As pet sitters, you’ve got the unique experience of caring for a multitude of pets. You get a snapshot view of their environment and habits when their parents aren’t around. However, what happens when that behavior is depression? That is why Pet Butler has the tips you need to pet sitting animals with pet depression.
What are the signs the pet could be depressed?
One of the more common issues pet sitters might encounter is a pet who is seemingly depressed. Any time a pet’s environment changes, whether it’s the loss of another canine companion or the departure of their loved ones for a weeklong vacation, a pet may become sad. Often, their distress begins to develop when departure cues are commenced such as the emergence of luggage or the sound of the garage door opening. By the time a pet sitter arrives, a pet may be pacing, hiding, disinterested in normal activities such as a walk or game of fetch. Changes in appetite may also indicate a pet is depressed. Many sad and anxious animals will refuse food or treats and lose weight or have signs of gastrointestinal distress such as vomiting or diarrhea. Other pets who are depressed compulsively lick a body part or seem to search for their family members in the house, exhibiting restlessness. Changes in sleep patterns may also indicate a pet is depressed; when they feel like a grey cloud has descended, they often stay bed-bound and want to sleep the day away like their human counterparts.
How can I prepare for a pet with depression?
Whenever you are taking on a new pet sitting client, try to get as much medical and behavioral history as possible. Are they on any medication? Who should you call if the pet hasn’t eaten in two days? Do you have permission to take the pet to their veterinarian if you are concerned about their health and well-being? If so, do you have the pet’s vaccination history, a credit card to pay for services, and written authorization from the owner? It is best to maintain their routine as much as possible. Do you know their regular schedule for walks, nap time, and playtime? Can you spend time with the pet on several occasions before you are tasked with their care? Get to know what is “normal” for that pet so you can better spot any unusual behaviors and develop trust.
While it may seem like an enthusiastic greeting and drawn-out departure would invigorate a depressed pet, the opposite is true. When you enter any pet’s home, you can let them outside to eliminate but wait until they are calm to give them attention and affection. As pet sitters, we want to encourage “good dog” behavior. By turning our arrivals and departures into ho-hum, ordinary events, pets are less likely to feel depressed when we leave. When you leave the home, alter the sequence of your exit cues. At one visit, wash the dog bowls when you arrive, at another do it just before you leave. Try using a different door when you leave the home. If it is your habit to hang up leashes or harnesses, leave them on the counter until the next visit. Pets’ depression grows as each familiar sign of your imminent departure occurs.
What can I do to help my pet client perk up?
If you are sitting a pet you know is prone to depression or anxiety, carry along some tasty treats such as freeze-dried liver bits or rotisserie chicken. Sometimes mixing a little chicken broth into their normal kibble will get an appetite back on track. Physical activity is a great remedy for situational depression and loneliness. Can you add in an additional jog around the block or game of fetch? Do they have a canine buddy they can tumble with to keep them socially engaged? For senior pets, perhaps you can spend some time snuggling on the couch, watching a movie, or brushing their fur till it shines. A new toy such as a food puzzle may be a good distraction if you need to leave them for a longer stretch of time. Many animals are comforted by the familiar smell of their human’s tee-shirt or towel placed where they sleep. Ask owners to leave one for their pooch.Pet wellness
At Pet Butler, we understand what it means to want to provide the best possible care to your clients. That is why when you hire Pet Butler, we remove all your pet’s waste from your yard everything – guaranteed. Learn more about the services we offer here!