Lately, our home is running into pets with many different unexpected things. Two of our pets are aging, the other is a scaly guy that is not enjoying the temperature changes. So he is not eating and is a bit grumpy. It is normal for some animals to slow down and rest in the cold. It is so hard to know what to do. If you have a warm-blooded pet like a hedgehog look up hybernations if your pet is cold-blooded like bearded dragons and other scales brumation.
In my life, I have been around different animals, I have owned at least 11 different types of animals, I also volunteered at a small animal refuge, I’m always learning about dealing with animals. Each comes with its own unique challenges.
Stressed pets can show many signs. Reduced/changes with eating, needing more attention, hiding, aggression, sulking (yes pets sulk.) Odd bathroom behaviors including going places like in the house, being over-energized, sleeping more and destroying things.
What can you do to hold your sanity when you are around an animal that is not being themselves?
- Create a routine for yourself and the pets you see often.
Some think pets don’t care about a schedule. Tell that to a dog that is up every day at 6:00 am. Or a cat that is certain that 5 mins before they are fed, they are going to starve to death. Maybe convince a horse that at treat time you have nothing, good luck at them not nibbling at your pocket..
- Even if your pet is sick or off their normal routine try to offer food at the same time every day. Even if it is just a small amount. This dose not apply to pet in hibernation or brumation.
- Have a sickness plan and end of life plan. As sad as that is to think about sometimes planning can help us and them transition.
- Don’t be too relaxed or too harsh on them, keep it as noramal as you can.
- Reduce the house/environment noise or have a quiet spot to retreat to. Even larger animals need many of the things mentioned.
- Talk calmly and firmly to them.
- If they have loss of a senses like hearing use hand gestures or if they are blind gently tap them.
- Try not to leave pets with anxiety alone, they can do a lot of damage to the things around them as well as really hurt themselves.
- Try reading things from reliable sources about what is going on with the animal.
- Start a savings account for pet health. Even if you put $20 dollars a month away. You might need it to aid a pet through their health. Big or small, regular or exotic. You will at some point need something for your pet.
- Find a vet you trust that is equipped and knowledgeable of your pets individual needs. Warn your vet on behaviors that could put them at risk of being bitten, kicked, clawed or injured in any way.
- Put thing that they can get into out of reach. I can’t telling you the joy of coming home to them getting into packets of oatmeal..
- Have some disinfected handy to clean unexpected messes. Vomit and poo and other body fluids.
- Give yourself extra time and patience.
If you are visiting someone with a pet, inquire if the pet has undesirable traits, like chewing up people’s stuff, peeing on it, rubbing everything, hiding or other stranger behaviors. I recommend people bring plastic bags and put their personal belongings in them and tie them off. I have had upset pets pee on my stuff.
If you are going to be a regular person that spends time around a pet. Might be better to do many short visits to start, so the animal can get used to you. This doesn’t mean they will be completely ok with this, might reduce their response. Then again an animal is going to do what it will.
When something is off with your pet like when my little chinchilla got a foot infection, I did not realize what was going on till it was bad. Don’t beat yourself up, you can’t know what you don’t know. Don’t assume that it is just a normal aging thing, Call the vet she was so helpful, she was willing to learn about this condition with us, when I when to the appointment I had research from vet writing including the best medications and doses for a chinchilla. Can be the line between saving a foot and amputation. This has been 6 weeks of medicine and medical care twice daily. It is very hard dealing with the unexpected.
If you need more places to learn more about your animals, there are some good online groups and community clubs you can become members of. Sometimes the people can have useful information other times they can be critical and hurtful. If you feel uncomfortable or betrayed, that might not be the right place for you. Feeling safe is key to learning.
Please share your pet stories! I would love to see how you got through your unexpected animal stuff.