Many pet owners have had to make significant adjustments to their daily habits and routines due to COVID-19. Naturally, these adjustments have also extended to our pets. If you’ve had to forego your regular trips to the pet store or the local dog park, you may be concerned that your pet isn’t getting the level of care they need to stay healthy and happy. Fortunately, there are things you can do to supplement what they’re missing and ensure they maintain a good quality of life. Here are a few simple yet effective tips for caring for your pet during COVID-19.
Whether you have a large dog that thrives outdoors or a languid indoor kitty, your pet needs exercise to stay in peak health. With COVID-19 interrupting many outdoor activities, you may feel at a loss for getting them the activity they need. Your options may be limited by your living situation and local restrictions, but there are ways you can exercise your pet without heading into populated areas.
Find short, nearby routes or isolated trails where you can safely walk your dog, even if it’s just heading to the next corner or around the block. Do multiple laps as needed in order to get the equivalent exercise they’re used to. It may not be as exciting as your previous routine, but the fresh air and sunshine are good for your pet’s physical and mental health (and yours, too!).
Look for toys that involve a lot of physical activity, whether that means chasing or playing tug-of-war. If you have a backyard, consider setting up an obstacle course for your pet to run through. You may even try walking your dog on a treadmill at a low speed.
Pets, especially dogs, often need an element of social interaction to feel fulfilled. Being cut off from their extended social circle can be as depressing for them as it is for us humans. It’s important to give your pet the social stimulation they need while also keeping them safe. Be sure to lavish them with plenty of attention and cuddles (which is also a great way to improve your own mood).
If you have a friend or relative with a pet within your socially distanced circle, consider scheduling playdates so that they can interact and energize each other. You might also consider adding another pet companion to your household. However, you should carefully evaluate whether you can devote enough time, attention, and financial resources to each animal before bringing in a new pet.
Just like us, your pet can get bored! Since your dog or cat won’t get the same entertainment as you do from a TV or computer screen – despite your cat’s insistence on joining your Zoom calls – it’s important for you to provide stimulation for their brains.
Games that play on their instincts are excellent options and are typically easy to set up. Find what holds your pet's interest and inspires them to interact. Hunting games for cats can be anything from pouncing at strings to chasing a crumpled paper. Your prized pooch will also love anything that stimulates their sniffer. Consider taking the "Easter egg hunt" approach of hiding small treats or other interesting scents in places around your home. They’ll be thrilled at getting to hunt down a tasty reward, and you’ll also have fun looking for good hiding places.
In the current COVID-19 situation, staying on top of your pet’s wellness is more critical than ever. Continue to schedule your regular vet visits, and consider bringing them in if you notice a new health issue such as lethargy or weight gain. It’s also important to know that, although rare, your pet can catch COVID-19. If someone in your household contracts the virus, be sure to isolate that person from everyone in the house, including your pets. Thankfully, COVID-19 is non-fatal in animals and can usually be treated at home, but you should still contact the vet to ensure that your pet receives the care they need.
One of the best things about our relationship with our pets is how they encourage us to live better, healthier lives. Caring for your pet can be equally rewarding for you as it is for them, which is part of what makes them family. If you’re looking for reliable veterinary care for your pet in Joliet, IL, our team at Essington Road Animal Hospital is excited to help. Learn more about our practice or schedule your visit today!