Quarantine is new territory for us all. Although you may have mastered working from home and teaching elementary math, have you thought about how this new normal is affecting your four-legged family member? Your pet may be struggling to adapt to your ever-present family, and weird schedule changes, and can pick up on your anxiety and unease over the present situation. Follow these five tips, and help ease quarantine’s burden on your furry friend.
#1: Create a quiet retreat for your pet
You may think your pet is thrilled that your entire family is home all day, but she may be wondering when she can go back to day-long naps and the solitude of a quiet house. Any schedule changes, including your pet receiving more attention than normal, can cause stress and anxiety. Many veterinary hospitals are reporting more stress-related illnesses, such as urinary tract disease in cats, during quarantine. Particularly if you have small children who love to run around the house singing loudly, and want to hug your pet 50 times a day, she needs a safe escape. Create space in a quiet room, and stock it with a cozy bed, favorite toys, and a peanut butter-filled Kong for your dog to enjoy. For your feline friend, place a high perch or cat tree in a quiet corner, so she can watch the household activity from a safe vantage point. Warn kids that your pet’s safe zone is off-limits, so your pet can sneak away whenever she needs alone time.
#2: Stock up on supplies for your pet
You are likely planning infrequent grocery-store trips, or ordering food online, to stock up on supplies, but don’t forget about your pet’s essentials. To prevent extra trips, online ordering of your pet’s supplies for home delivery is a good idea, but many suppliers are reporting food shortages, and longer-than-normal waiting times. Place your pet’s order several weeks in advance, to ensure you don’t have to substitute a different food, which can cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset. If you do need to switch your pet’s diet, choose one from the same manufacturer, with similar ingredients, and mix it with your pet’s old diet for about a week, to minimize the impact on her GI system.
If your pet needs medication refills, prescription food, or parasite prevention, TotalBond Veterinary Hospital at Paw Creek can help. Call us for prescription refills, so we can prepare your pet’s medication, and deliver it to your car. For prescription diets, and heartworm, flea, and tick preventives, you can place your order with our online pharmacy. With AutoShip, your pet’s supplies will be shipped directly to your front door.
#3: Share the great outdoors with your pet
Many activities are off-limits during quarantine, but exercising outdoors, while social-distancing, is encouraged, so lace up your tennis shoes and head outside. Daily exercise is a great way to beat cabin fever, and will prevent boredom-related mischief, such as chewing and digging, that your pet may develop if she’s cooped up for too long. Take your pooch for a daily stroll around the neighborhood, and let her sniff to her heart’s desire. On weekends, when you can spend more time together, check out a new, less-traveled walking path, or a secluded hiking trail.
#4: Mentally stimulate your pet with indoor games
Mental exercise is as important as physical exercise, and makes for a happy, content pet. To exercise your pet’s mind, appeal to her natural instincts by creating a predator game for your cat, or a sniffing drill for your pooch. Try one of these ideas:
- Whack-a-mole game — To encourage your cat’s inner predator, cut holes in the bottom of a box, and poke a feather wand through the holes, to entice your cat to catch the “bird.”
- Window perch — Cats love to sit and watch outside activity, so place a perch in a window facing your backyard, where your cat can observe the birds and squirrels.
- Food puzzles — Instead of feeding your pet from a boring food bowl, why not make her work for her dinner? Purchase a food puzzle, or simply hide your pet’s food in a tennis ball-filled muffin tin, or a newspaper-filled paper towel roll.
- Scavenger hunts — Hide healthy treats, such as small fresh carrot and cucumber pieces, around your house, for your dog to sniff out.
#5: Keep your pet safe and healthy
If tackling home improvement, gardening, or baking projects while you have extra time, ensure your pet’s safety by keeping her away from potential hazards. Watch out for dangers in these home areas:
- Kitchen — Raw yeast dough used to make homemade bread and pizza can cause GI obstruction and alcohol toxicity if eaten by your pet, because the dough ferments and rises in her warm stomach. Many common snack foods, such as grapes, raisins, and chocolate that your kids may drop on the floor, can also be toxic.
- Garage — Paint, power tools, and sharp nails can all cause a pet emergency, if your four-legged friend wanders into your work zone.
- Backyard — Many lawn and garden products, such as fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, can cause toxicity if your pet ingests the chemical, or grooms it from her fur.
If your pet does get into quarantine mischief, contact our hospital, or use our telemedicine app, TeleVet, so we can help you determine whether your pet needs to visit our hospital, or you can handle the situation at home. Keep your first-aid kit stocked with pet-ready supplies, such as a muzzle, fresh hydrogen peroxide, bandage materials, triple antibiotic ointment, and Benadryl, so we can walk you through managing your pet’s minor crisis.
Your pet will thank you for taking extra effort to ensure her health and happiness during this uncertain time. If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health during quarantine, contact us for advice.