Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed life as we know it.
In just two months, the swift spread of COVID-19 throughout the U.S. has warranted state-wide quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, school shutdowns, and other social distancing practices that have upended day-to-day life for millions of people.
With social life ceased, families—pets included—are spending more time together at home (which, let’s face it, can be tough). Cooped up at home, we are finding new ways to stay active and entertained. Today, many of us are balancing the realities of working from home while parenting, sitting down for family meals, playing board games, and revisiting old hobbies.
Gradually, the world is growing accustomed to self-isolation, but what does this mean for our pets?
What the Stay-at-Home Culture Means for Our Pets
Like us, our furry friends need mental and physical enrichment. So, what can you do to make sure Fido and Whiskers stays safe and sane during this unsettling time? Cathleen Meeks, DVM, Regional Vice President of Medicine, Veterinary Internist, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, provides expert tips to help owners keep pets healthy and happy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our normal routines have drastically changed. As we keep on top of our family’s health needs, we must also keep in mind the health needs of our pets,” remarked Dr. Meeks. “In many ways, our needs as humans are similar to our pets’ needs – we all require a nutritious diet, clean water, good hygiene and exercise to maintain good health. And just like people, some pets may feel anxiety due to the sudden change in daily routines. It’s important to keep their schedules as stable as possible, which means keeping mealtimes, walks and other enrichment consistent.”
By following these expert tips, pet owners may be able to help ease some of the effects that COVID-19 lifestyle changes may have on our four-legged friends.
Four Expert Tips to Keep Pets Healthy and Happy
- Prepare an emergency kit for your pet. Make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit for your pet that includes a 30-day supply of your dog or cat’s medications, a two- to three-week supply of food and clean water, and other necessary items such as a crate (portable, if possible), bedding, litter, a spare harness and leash. Be sure to have your pets’ ID tag and vaccination records up to date.
- Assign a pet sitter. Designate a friend or relative to watch your pet in case you get sick or need support during an unprecedented time. Write down your pet’s pill schedule, dietary restrictions, and instructions for feeding and medications. In addition to medications, make sure you have an ample supply of pet food and healthy treats. If you obtain your pet’s food from your veterinarian, call ahead to check on supply availability.
- Skip the dog park. Get creative when it comes to keeping your pet active while observing social distancing recommendations. While abiding by any local ordinances and curfews, continue daily walks with your dog, and avoid busy streets. Given there’s still so much we don’t know about pets and COVID-19, skip the dog park and dog daycares during this time in an abundance of caution.
- Take care of your pet’s mental health, too! Make sure your pets continue to get plenty of attention, and do your best to keep their normal schedule, including feeding, walking, playing and sleeping. If you notice any concerning behavior changes – whether peeing or pooping in the house, hoarding or turf-guarding, or things like compulsive licking or over-grooming – call your veterinarian for advice.
A Challenging Time for Pet Owners
Today, pet owners are confronted with a unique challenge: maintaining the health and happiness of their pets while sticking to the ever-evolving recommendations and local requirements. Though it is an unsettling time, Dr. Meeks says there are simple best practices pet owners can follow to help ensure the safety and health of their pet.
As always, it’s important for people to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene,” said Dr. Meeks. “For pet owners, this includes washing hands after handling pets, their food, waste, or supplies. If you have questions about your pet’s health, talk to your veterinarian. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact your local emergency veterinary practice.”
BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, which has more than 90 emergency and specialty pet hospitals across 25 U.S. states, remains committed to providing remarkable care for clients and pets during this time. To find a hospital near you, please visit https://bluepearlvet.com/find-a-hospital/.