Consider Your Pet's Safety While You're at Work - The Trupanion Blog
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Consider Your Pet’s Safety While You’re at Work

Any pet owner will tell you that our pets are family. They are our furry, four-legged children, and there are few things with the potential to be quite as nerve-wracking as leaving our children alone and unattended at home. Unfortunately, since bringing our pets to work is rarely an option, we don’t always have a lot of alternatives if we want to make a living. Here we want to equip you with knowledge and solutions so that you understand the hazards your pet faces without you and how you can diffuse them.

Indoors or outdoors?

In general, it’s usually best to have your pet indoors while you’re away and can’t supervise. There are a number of causes for concern:

  • Where cats are concerned, there are approximately 60 million stray, feral cats in the United States. Cats tend to be territorial and aggressive towards uninvited guests. More troublesome than the scuffles themselves is that many of these stray cats carry very harmful diseases.
  • Parasites such as ticks, intestinal worms, and ringworm.
  • Boredom or anxious digging can open exit routes under fences.
  • Neither dogs nor cats know instinctively to stay away from the street.
  • Unfortunately, the frightening thought of animal cruelty is an equally-frightening reality, especially with cats caught roaming.

Although you may feel like you’re depriving your pet of the opportunity to get some fresh air during the day, they are much safer inside.

Common Dangers:

Bone/Bodily Injuries: This doesn’t apply so much to cats since they’re generally pretty acrobatic and self-aware. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t quite so graceful, and a jump or a tumble from heights can put them in harm’s way.

Block off access to stairs and tall furniture. Even a jump from the height of a couch can cause a sprain in a small dog; training them to stay off furniture altogether is an effective method of eliminating the risk. If this is difficult, try putting steps and ramps next to the furniture they like to be on.

Cozy catUrinary Tract Infections: UTIs are common in pets who aren’t able to eliminate with enough frequency. Moreover, the concentration of urine in the bladder of a pet who “holds it” for too long can cause crystallized buildup which eventually leads to a lot of pain and costly vet bills.

Cats will often choose another place to eliminate if they can’t access their litter box, but that doesn’t mean they should have to. Make sure your cat’s litter box is accessible and clean each day before you leave. For your dog, consider puppy training pads if there is simply no way to get them outside during the day. Otherwise, you can try recruiting friends, family, neighbors, or dog-walking services to stop by in the middle of the day.

Boredom: Just like us, when our pets are bored, they go on a search for a source of entertainment. Unfortunately, in our pets’ case, those sources are more often destructive than not. If the property damage itself wasn’t bad enough, chewing can lead to choking or electrocution.

Play with and exercise your pets in the morning. The more energy you take out of them before you leave, the less they have to expend on finding trouble. Before you leave the house, set your pets up with a selection of toys. Try to lean towards toys that are more challenging in nature, such as those that make your dog work to access hidden treats.

French Bulldog at Dog Gate

Separation Anxiety: Both dogs and cats have been known to suffer from acute depression when they are separated from their owners for extended periods of time. In the excitement they show when you get home from work, you may not even be aware that they’ve spent the day exhibiting stress behaviors. These behaviors may be pacing, vomiting and diarrhea, not eating, eliminating indoors, chewing and digging, and in some cases, self-mutilation.

Separation anxiety is a matter of training. Often the training involves leaving your dog alone during short periods of time while you’re at home and reducing the direct attention you give them. Styles and professional opinions vary on exactly how to execute this type of training, but essentially the goal is to help your pets understand that your absence will never be permanent. If you see signs of separation anxiety in your pet, consult your veterinarian for advice and references to local trainers and material.

In all cases, a good way to identify your pets’ situations and needs while you’re away is to take advantage of remote surveillance technologies. Liveline, iWatchLife and McAfee all offer home camera services that allow you to access home surveillance from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Not only can remote surveillance give you peace of mind when you’re away from your pet, but it can help you recognize dangerous behaviors and plan solutions.

Jay Acker heads up a team of writers at Safety Services company that create safety training kits, safety manuals and other safety products.

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