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Why is my pet acting strange?

Some pet owners have noticed a change in their pet's behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ATLANTA — ATLANTA—If you think the coronavirus pandemic has you stressed, just look at your pets.

There’s a chance your furry friends are reacting to the anxiety right along with you.

“I’ve noticed a change with Chocolate,” says 11Alive Morning Rush Insider Wendy Thomas. Her pup won’t leave her side, a behavior that’s new since the arrival of the coronavirus.

“If I’m trying to go to the kitchen to cook, if I’m going to the bedroom, he’s on my heels,” says Thomas. “He wants to be really, really close to me.”

Many pet owners have noticed a variety of personality changes since the coronavirus brought stress and uncertainty.

Why?

A change in your routine can spark a change in your pet’s behavior. When you worry, they do too.

RELATED: CDC extends social distancing guidelines to include pets

“Dogs and cats because of their domestication process,” says Dr. Leticia Dantas, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “They learn really well to read our body language. They want to be closer to you because you’re their comfort blanket.”

Different animals will react in different ways. They may be clingy, skittish, or even aggressive.

“If they get worked up and nervous, it can come out this way,” says Dr. Dantas.

Our reaction could change our animal's behavior.

“The best thing to do if you don’t want them clingy is to ignore them,” says Dr. Gail Hansen of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.  “We often reward that behavior by petting the animal or stroking the animal. Then they’ll keep on doing it.”

RELATED: Dogs are being trained to smell COVID-19 on people

Dr. Hansen of the Humane Society suggests teaching your dog a new trick or something else productive to distract them from the changes and stress.

Remember, when your life goes back to normal, that’s another change in routine for your animal that could impact their behavior again. Ease them back into the old routine.

Vets say most pets will be just fine. If the change in behavior is extreme, you may need to see a specialist.

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