Despite having adapted to the new normal amid COVID-19, these are stressful times. Everyone in your household is likely feeling the strain, including your pet. Although you may assume that your furry family member loves having you home all day, any schedule change can cause her stress and anxiety. While you manage Zoom meetings and fourth-grade long division, your pet may be wondering when she can resume her normal day-long naps on the couch. To help your pet get through these tough times, here are five ways you can show her some extra TLC, and keep her safe and healthy.
#1: Stock up on your pet’s favorite essentials
Your pet is a creature of habit, who enjoys eating her favorite dinner on time, and being rewarded with her favorite treats. You’ve probably stocked your kitchen pantry to the ceiling with family snacks and staples, but have you checked your pet’s food supply? People are stockpiling pet supplies, as well as toilet paper, and you may have trouble replenishing your pet’s favorites if you wait too long. Many suppliers are reporting shortages and longer-than-normal waiting times, so order your pet’s food, treats, and litter well in advance, from a reputable online pet-supply company, to avoid having to leave your house.
Don’t forget your pet’s medications, including important parasite preventives. If your pet needs a medication refill, prescription food, or heartworm, flea, or tick prevention, call our Tidmore Veterinary Hospital office so we can prepare the prescription, and deliver it to your car.
#2: Create quarantine games to play with your pet
Sitting around the house all day gives you a unique perspective into your pet’s daily life. To beat cabin fever, create games to stimulate your pet’s mind, and yours. A few you can try include:
- Food puzzles — Turn your pet’s mealtime into a stimulating activity by swapping out her food bowl for a puzzle feeder. Sprinkle your dog’s kibble in a muffin tin, fill the holes with tennis balls, and watch her nose the balls around to find her food. Put your cat’s food in a paper towel roll loosely filled with newspaper, and let her figure out how to get to her breakfast.
- Treat scavenger hunt — Appeal to your pet’s natural predator by hiding her kibble, or a few treats, throughout the house, and letting her sniff out the food.
- Hide and seek — Teach your pet to play hide and seek by commanding her to stay, and then hiding. Call her, and reward her with praise and a treat when she finds you.
- Agility trials — Use items in your home, like mounds of toilet paper rolls, and stacks of canned goods, to create an agility course you can teach your pet to navigate.
- Talent show — Have everyone in your family teach your pet a new trick, and have a talent show to decide whose trick is best.
#3: Hit the pavement with your pet
Indoor games can exercise your pet’s mind on rainy days, but nothing beats the quarantine blues like getting outside, and enjoying the fresh air with your pet. A daily walk or jog with your furry friend will also invigorate you, and help you focus better while working from home, as well as prevent you both from gaining extra weight while cooped up. Since outdoor exercise is quarantine-approved, take your pet for a daily neighborhood stroll, and explore a new walking path or hiking trail on weekends. Give your pet plenty of time to sniff around, and enjoy the sights and sounds.
#4: Keep your pet safe during home projects
To make the most of your time, you’re likely adding craft and baking projects to your daily schedule, and tackling home improvement and gardening projects on the weekends. While channeling your inner martha Stewart or Bob Vila, don’t forget to keep your furry friend out of harm’s way, since many projects involve pet hazards, such as:
- Toxic foods — Popular snack foods, such as grapes, raisins, and chocolate, that your kids may drop on the floor, are toxic to pets, and can cause significant illness. If you decide to make homemade bread or pizza dough, be aware that raw yeast dough can cause a gastrointestinal (GI) blockage, or alcohol toxicity, if your pet ingests some.
- Craft supplies — Popsicle sticks, fuzzy pom poms, and pipecleaners may look like fun, new toys to your pet, who may gobble them up before you can intervene.
- Home improvement supplies — Heavy tools, sharp nails, paint, and cleaning chemicals can all pose a hazard to your curious pet.
- Lawn and garden chemicals — Fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides applied to your lawn and garden can cause toxicity if your pet eats the chemicals, or grooms them from her fur.
#5: Make a safe haven for your pet
Create a safe space for your pet while you are working on projects that may be dangerous. Stock a safe, out-of-the-way area with a cozy bed, your pet’s favorite toys, and a Kong filled with frozen peanut butter-slathered kibble for her to enjoy while you work, and cannot supervise her closely.
Your pet can also escape to her safe haven if family chaos becomes overstimulating, and she longs for her normal routine of leisurely naps and a quiet house. Especially if you have young children who zoom through the house and sing along to the TV at the top of their lungs, your pet may feel overwhelmed, and need a refuge.
Quarantine is stressful for us all, but showing your pet a little extra TLC right now can help you both feel better, and strengthen your bond. Contact us if you have any health-care concerns, or if your pet gets into mischief while you are all at home.