As people around the world navigate the changing climate around COVID-19, we’re learning more about how the virus can affect pets. Our friends at Fear Free Happy Homes are on top of keeping pet parents informed during this uncertain time, and have a wealth of information when it comes to COVID-19 and its effects on pets in this post The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has tips for pet parents, recommending people who test positive for COVID-19 observe the following guidelines:
- Restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just as you would restrict contact with humans.
- If possible, let another member of your household care for your pet while you’re sick.
- Avoid contact like snuggling, petting, getting kissed or licked, and sharing food with pets.
- Wash your hands before and after any contact you have with your pets.
1. Respect the Routine
Even if you are not sick with COVID-19, the situation has most likely changed your and your pet’s daily routines. Now, more than ever, it’s important to keep to your routines as much as possible. Our furry friends can sense when we’re stressed, so if you’re stressed about all the changes, they will be too. One way to eliminate stress is to try and make things as normal as possible for the both of you. Small things like feeding them at the same time each day, taking them for walks when possible and giving them extra attention when you’re home can all make a big difference in their happiness and yours.
2. Exercise is Essential
Speaking of walks, you and your pet need exercise during this time. The amount of exercise depends on the age and size of your dog but in general terms, if you have a puppy, take advantage of their playfulness. If it’s nice outside, try and spend that playtime outside. The same goes for older dogs and exercise. Walk and play outside when you can, but don’t push your dog if they seem tired. Don’t be afraid to exercise your dog inside either, especially if the weather is not ideal. Playing inside can be as easy as a mini game of fetch down the hallway, a few laps around the kitchen or having your pet chase a laser pointer for a few minutes.
Don’t forget about mental exercise either, it’s just as important as physical exercise. A few ideas from Fear Free include:
- Teaching your pet a new trick.
- Setting up an indoor obstacle course.
- Playing a game of hide and seek together.
Some indoor cats require special attention when it comes to keeping up with mental exercise, and self-quarantine and social distancing is a perfect time to work on this! We all know dogs’ noses are pretty powerful, but things are a little different when it comes to felines and their sense of smell. Check out this post for 7 ways to enrich your cat’s environment with scent – you may be surprised how easy it is to treat your cat with scents you already have close by!
3. Beware of the Backyard
Contrary to what a lot of people may believe, the backyard is not necessarily your dog’s favorite place to be. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest they may actually get bored outside pretty quickly. And it makes sense when you think about it, dogs are social creatures. This is evident in the excitement they show when you come home and the shadow-like persona they take on once you’re inside, following you around no matter where you go. Don’t get us wrong, time outside is important for all pets, but after a few minutes, especially for dogs, they’re more likely to want to go on a walk instead of stay confined to the backyard. Make sure you check out these do's and don'ts of letting your dog outside before opening the slider next time.
Help for pet parents trying to navigate the COVID-19 situation doesn’t stop here. We urge you to visit Fear Free’s COVID-19 resource page to see how you can keep yourself and your pet happy and healthy now and always.