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        Pet Advice
A pet friendly winter
For many of us, 2020 has not been the best of years and we will be glad to say goodbye to it. Sadly COVID-19 is an ongoing
issue and although much progress has been made it is still impacting greatly on our everyday lives. Hopefully 2021 will see a gradual return to something resembling “normal” but that is by no means guaranteed. So how can we look after ourselves and our pets and stay positive with all that is going on?
In the current time of social distancing and lockdowns I feel very fortunate to be a dog owner. Pets provide us with companionship and although they cannot replace the company and conversation of human friends they reduce loneliness and bring joy to our lives.
Their mere presence has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress and scientific studies have shown that stroking a pet for even a relatively short amount of time causes significant reductions in the stress hormone cortisol.
It is well known that exercise, as well as improving our physical health, has a
positive impact on mental wellbeing. You almost always feel better after getting out for exercise and fresh air and what better motivation is there to
exercise than puppy eyes and a wagging tail.
We are incredibly lucky in our part of the country with the wealth of interesting countryside on offer. Think of the miles of Thetford forest tracks to explore, the beautiful East Anglian beaches and coastline or the extensive network of footpaths that cross the region. Why not investigate somewhere new?
So how have our pets coped with lockdown? The most important thing we can do to improve our pet’s mental wellbeing is to provide enough exercise and stimulation. Very many of the behaviour problems that we see would be greatly reduced, if not eliminated by addressing this.
A bracing country walk is not the only option so if you are not able to get out or you are trying to juggle Zoom meetings without doggy interruptions you may need to consider other means of entertaining your pet. How about feeding your dog or cat from a treat ball so they have to work to get their food, or getting them a snuffle mat in which you hide treats or small pieces of their
normal food? There are all sorts of canine and feline friendly toys and food puzzles available. Take care not to overfeed your pet though and if they are getting more treats than normal, reduce the portions fed at mealtimes accordingly. Indeed I have seen many pets recently who have gained weight during 2020, largely because their owners have been at home more and unable to resist the pleading eyes or feline pestering!
So with the extra time we have at the moment, let’s get our wellies on and get out in the beautiful Norfolk and Suffolk countryside that we are so fortunate to have at our disposal. Our physical and mental health will benefit, as will that of our pets.
n If you have any queries then please contact us at
 Advice from Katy Ellison of Eastgate Vets
    The best way to care
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