How Long is Too Long For Your Pet To Be Unattended?

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

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Canton Michigan Pet Sitter

Unless you can work from home, there is a high probability that you resort to leaving your pet alone at home. Whether it’s the hours you need to be out for work, or if you just need to run a couple of errands or attend some appointments, there will be a period when your pet is alone at home.

How long is too long?

A U.K. report conducted by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) gathered data from 11,261 pet owners and they asked them how long they think their pets should be left alone. 52% of these owners answered that 5 hours seemed like a reasonable amount of time for your pet to stay home alone. 17% said that 6 hours was the limit, while 15% said not more than 8 hours. The rest of the respondents didn’t keep track of the time at all.

The variety of answers sparked a long debate over the acceptable duration for pets to stay home without an owner. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor and pet behavior expert at the University of British Columbia put forward this point:

“Different dogs [and cats] tend to have different social needs.” This means that there is no set duration for the acceptable amount of time you can leave your pet at home. How long until your pet gets anxious in your absence ultimately depends on how sociable and adjusted your pet is.

Different pet breeds also have different social needs. For example, Labrador retrievers are a species meant for hunting and retrieving. If they are cooped up for too long, they might get restless and focus their pent-up energy elsewhere. This is the number one reason why dogs or cats misbehave. If they get bored or anxious because of the absence of exercise, they will surely find something else to focus on.

Dogs and cats bred for companionship are highly likely to have lower tolerance for being alone. Sometimes, these smaller breeds can get depressed and this permanently affects their behavior.

Should I leave my pet at home?

Some pet owners think that leaving your pet indoors or in a fenced yard with ample food and water supply is enough. However, the longer you keep pet food out exposed, the higher the chances of bacteria build-up. The same goes for water; if you notice a silky layer of oil or sediment resting on top of the water’s surface, it’s time to give your pet a fresh serving of water. Not being able to do this could increase the chances of your pet getting indigestion or other problems.

These are just some of the considerations every pet owner must go through before deciding to leave a pet unattended. To help you decide whether you should leave your pet alone or not, here are more considerations to think of:

  • Development of bad behavior: Most cats and dogs develop bad habits such as nibbling on objects and incessant barking when they are left alone without any moderation. The more they get used to having their way, the less likely they will respond to your efforts to train them.
  • Development of dangerous habits: Being cooped up can lead to your dog or cat feeling defensive, and they may take this out on the next person they see, which could be a neighbor, relative or even you. Studies will tell you that a majority of bite incidents occur after a pet has felt anxiety or stress from being tied up or caged for too long. 
  • Theft: Leaving your pet home alone also increases the likelihood that they get stolen. Without anyone to attend to them, pets are defenseless against theft.

It is your responsibility as a pet owner to ensure that your pet’s needs are met all the time. If you cannot be around to provide these needs, you should consider hiring the services of a professional pet sitter. This way, you do not endanger your pet’s lives, or possibly even your own. Call Pet Nanny at 734-981-6108 to schedule a meeting so your pet can feel right at home with our loving handlers!

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