Working from home with a cat.

For many pet owners, working from home has become more commonplace. While this new dynamic may present many challenges for human families, there’s one family member that probably likes it—your pet, of course! 

It’s no mystery that pet ownership sometimes has its challenges, but being around our pets 24 hours a day, every day, may provide new perspective on this relationship. Not only is there the unique companionship that a pet adds to the workday, you might be gaining new insight into your pet’s behavior and needs. You may also discover that you now have to strike a balance between showing your pet attention and getting your work done. 

Thanks for the Stress Relief

It is well-known that our pets can provide much welcome stress relief from our busy and chaotic lives. They also help us get outdoors for our daily walks, to socialize and connect with others, and even entertain us with their cute or interesting antics. Overall, they add a wonderful dimension to our lives. That being said, a dog barking in the background or a cat’s tail blocking your computer screen may not be what you had planned for your latest Zoom meeting!  

They’re Adapting, Too

An interesting aspect of working from home is that pets are also having to adapt to their humans being around more. For most pets, this is probably a good thing and they like having the daytime companionship and additional attention. For other pets, however, it may result in new behaviors — especially, if a pet is sensitive to the fluctuating stress levels of their owners, ringing phones, or other office-related sounds and activities. 

A lesser known issue is that with more people working at home, fewer pets are getting enough sleep during the day. Our pets are acutely aware of our movements and activity when we are home and, while they may rest, they don’t sleep as deeply as they do when no one is there. 

It is believed that the average dog or cat needs around 16 hours of sleep within each 24-hour period, and puppies and kittens may need up to 20 or more. As in humans, lack of adequate sleep for both dogs and cats can lead to sluggishness, irritability, hyperactivity and other health-related problems.

Create a Better Harmony

Even though you’re working from home, you are probably not wholly focused on your pet all of the time. Motivated by boredom, pets may react to being ignored by seeking attention with annoying behaviors, such as needy pestering, barking, chewing or scratching. Since we understand how difficult it can be to disregard a pet seeking attention, here are some tips to help you both get through your work day in better harmony:

  • Make sure your pet gets its annual or semi-annual check-up with your veterinarian to rule out an underlying medical reason for a new or unusual behavior. Being home during the work day provides the opportunity to observe things that you otherwise may not notice about your pet. Don’t ignore something that just doesn’t seem right.
  • Provide your pet with a comfortable bed and a place where it can rest throughout the day, and allow your pet at least 2 hours per day of quiet, undisturbed nap-time. For additional calming, draw the shades and put on soft music to let your pet know this is ‘off-duty’ time. 
  • Provide your pet with adequate physical and mental stimulation, every day. Early morning, midday, and evening outdoor walks and play time for dogs and indoor play activity for cats can help prevent inconvenient distractions during phone calls or meetings. This will also help your pet stay healthy and happy.
  • Keep your pet in a separate room (or in its crate) when distraction-free work time is required. Letting your pet play with interactive toys during meeting times can also help. 
  • Keep your pet on a regular feeding and potty break schedule, and plan your work-related meal times and breaks for the same time as your pet’s.
  • Resist the temptation to feed your pet more food (or treats) than the daily quantity recommended by your veterinarian. As with humans, those extra calories add up fast and can easily lead to overweightness and obesity.   
  • Most pets need some structure, so stick to a daily routine that your pet can count on.
  • Take your pet to new places when you’re not working. A ride in the car, an outdoor hike or a play trip to the park can all provide a welcome change from the week-day routine.
  • Seek a behavior consult with our Pet Behavior Specialist if your pet’s behavior appears unusually excessive or is difficult to manage.

Focus on the Benefits

Working from home can provide many benefits, including, not having to make a long commute or deal with congested roadways. For our pets, it offers daytime companionship and the comfort of not being left alone. By making a few simple adjustments, the conflicting needs of both humans and pets can be resolved to provide a pleasant, yet productive work-at-home environment. If you have questions about your pet’s behavior or any of our many services, please let us know. We’re always here to help at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center.