The COVID-19 pandemic has turned all our lives upside down. Here are some tips to help ensure your dog or cat stays safe and healthy during this challenging time.
The COVID-19 pandemic took most us by surprise. In a matter of a few short weeks this spring, thousands of businesses closed and people were told stay home in an attempt to slow the relentless spread of this devastating virus. While you may be adapting to this “new normal” by now, don’t forget to continue keeping your dog or cat’s health, safety and comfort in mind, as well as your own. This checklist will keep you on the right track.
1. Keep up to date with your vet’s rules and regulations
If you haven’t already, call your veterinarian to find out what their protocols are during this time of physical distancing. Has the clinic shortened its hours or closed its doors to walk-in traffic? What are the arrangements if your animal gets injured or sick? Finding all this out ahead of time will make things a lot easier if something crops up and your dog or cat needs prompt attention. Telemedicine may also be an option in some cases.
2. Keep his routine as consistent as possible
In the meantime, continue your dog or cat’s regular health regime as best you can with a quality diet and adequate exercise (more on this below). Try to keep to his regular routine and be alert for any changes in his health or well-being that might warrant a call to the vet.
Even in regions with “shelter in place” orders, you are usually still allowed to take your dog for a walk.
3. Be prepared
Keep a two-week supply of pet food on hand, along with a 30-day supply of any medications or supplements your dog or cat is taking. Although many pet food stores have temporarily closed their doors to walk-in traffic during the pandemic, you can order food and other supplies and either pick them up or have them delivered.
4. Arrange for a trustworthy pet sitter
There are conflicting reports as to whether or not dogs or cats can contract COVID-19 from humans (we still have a lot to learn about this virus). For the time being, it’s best to err on the side of caution and arrange for a family member, friend or neighbor to take care of your animal if by chance you get sick.
The same applies if you have to be hospitalized. Making arrangements for your dog or cat’s care ahead of time will at least give you the peace of mind of knowing he’ll be looked after if you’re out of commission for a while. Make sure your emergency caregiver has all the information she needs to care for your animal – e.g. what and when to feed him, what supplements or medications he requires, what his exercise needs are, where to order supplies, which veterinarian to call in the event of an emergency, etc.
Keep a two-week supply of pet food on hand, along with a 30-day supply of any medications or supplements he’s taking.
5. Wash your hands regularly
We all know about the importance of washing your hands. This is good hygiene practice at any time, but remembering to wash your hand before and after petting, grooming or feeding your dog or cat covers even more bases.
6. Take steps to minimize stress during the pandemic
This is a stressful time for everyone – including your dog or cat, who will be picking up on your anxiety and possibly feeling upset by changes in his routine. Be sure to fit in lots of quality time with your animal. This will be easy to do if you’re spending a lot more time at home right now. Even if you’re a frontline worker, try to give your dog or cat some extra love and attention when you are home. It’ll be good for both of you!
7. Get outside!
Depending on where you live, you’ll still be able to go outdoors to get some fresh air and exercise during the pandemic – in fact this is encouraged, as long as you maintain at least 6’ between you and other people outside your immediate household. Even in regions with “shelter in place” orders, you are usually still allowed to take your dog for a walk. Many dog parks have closed for the duration, but you can turn your own backyard into a fun activity center for your canine companion. If you have a cat, you can try taking him out on a harness (under constant supervision) or invest in a cat enclosure if you have the funds to spare. Failing that, an open window with a nearby bird feeder will keep Kitty entertained for hours!
Most of us alive today have never experienced a pandemic like this before. It’s scary and disorienting, and no one knows when life might go back to normal. Focusing on your dog or cat can help ground you and give you purpose – and the unconditional love you receive in return will do wonders for your mental and emotional health.