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What is canine cabin fever & how can you spot it?

With the current lockdown restrictions in place, more of us have to spend prolonged periods with our pets indoors. You may be aware of the impact that this can have on your own mental health, but did you know that spending too much time inside can have a negative impact on your dog too? 

If your dog has been acting strange recently, they may be suffering from cabin fever. Read on to learn more about what this means for you and your dog. 

What is canine cabin fever?

If you stay isolated indoors for a significant amount of time, you may experience symptoms of ‘cabin fever’, and the same is true for dogs. Your pet may show signs of canine cabin fever if they’re stuck inside for more time than usual. If you’re in self-isolation or quarantine with a dog, it’s important to look out for signs of dog cabin fever to ensure they stay healthy and happy during this difficult time. 

Why do dogs get cabin fever?

Not all dogs will show signs of cabin fever when kept indoors, but for those that do, it is thought to be linked to boredom and under-stimulation. 

Just like us humans, our dogs can get bored when they’re left to entertain themselves. This presents challenges for those in self-isolation, as your dog might not get the attention it needs whilst you’re recovering. 

Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to prevent your pets from getting bored whilst indoors. 

What are the symptoms of canine cabin fever?

As a dog owner, you’ll know just how much time and effort it takes to keep your pets entertained. This is even more challenging if you have a large, active dog or a puppy to take care of. 

If you’re required to stay indoors with your dog(s), your pets might start acting in a strange way. This includes:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Aggression e.g. biting or barking
  • Persistent scratching
  • Acting out

These are common signs of canine cabin fever, however, these behaviours can vary from dog to dog. You know your pets better than anyone else, so if you believe that they are acting out of the ordinary, it’s important to take action. Luckily, there are several ways to keep dogs of all shapes and sizes stimulated whilst in quarantine. 

How to deal with cabin fever in dogs

If you’re stuck indoors with your pet, there are a range of activities you can take part in to keep them stimulated throughout the lockdown. Here are a few of our suggestions:

Food toys 

Kong is a popular brand of chew toy that allows you to hide treats from your dog, however, there are a wealth of other similar food toys to choose from.

These can help to add an additional challenge to play time, and they can keep your dog occupied whilst they dig the treat out of the toy. 

Use a calming diffuser or supplement

If your dog can’t stop scratching or barking, it might be time to invest in a calming diffuser to help them settle. 

These use pheromones to de-stress your dog and make them feel more at ease in a new environment or situation. If your dog is not used to staying indoors, this might help them to ease into the new routine.

Teach your dog new tricks

Now is the perfect time to teach your dog or puppy a new trick. This often requires persistence and patience, however, it will help to keep them entertained whilst indoors and bond with you. 

Buddy up with a neighbour

Large and active dogs must be walked every day to keep them fit and healthy. That’s why if you’re sick or you can’t leave the house, it’s important to buddy up with a neighbour or friend that can walk your dog for you. This will help your dog get the exercise and stimulation it needs during lockdown. 


This article was written by Dorothy Edgar on behalf of Animal Health. Animal Health provide natural health and grooming products for cats, dogs, horses and other animals. 

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