Keeping your pets active and healthy during the COVID-19
We’ve all been victims of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and sudden changes, but what has it done to our furry companions?
Pets all over the world are now facing stressful changes, lack of physical activity, their human roommates being at home all the time, with all the noise and crowded space. On top of that, pet owners are worried about their animals’ health and safety.
Here’s some useful info on pets and Coronavirus, how to keep them healthy and engaged during the lockdown, as well as easily overcome all the possible obstacles and concerns.
Can my pet get COVID-19?
According to the CDC, there haven’t been any cases reported of pets spreading or getting infected with Coronavirus. Similarly, the World Health Organization hasn’t come to any concrete evidence stating that cats, dogs, other pets, and even livestock can become ill or transmit this disease.
What does this mean for you as the owner? While your pet won’t get infected, general safety recommendations include extra caution when taking the pet outside. When it comes to dog walking, for instance, wash your hands thoroughly before and after you go out and wipe your dog’s paws before it enters the house again. Avoid any direct contact with other pet owners and keep a safe distance.
The importance of physical activity - how to make it happen indoors
Cat and dog owners whose pets are used to long walks and frequent potty breaks are struggling with the imposed restrictions. Luckily, there are fun and mess-free ways to physically engage your pet inside the house.
Utilize all the toys and pet accessories you have lying around the house and involve the entire family. You can make obstacle courses or treasure hunts just by making some simple furniture arrangements. Make DIY obstacles and partitions with chairs, boxes, old plastic bottles, or anything suitable for making an improvised home-based amusement park. Don’t forget the treats and snacks!
Rabbits, hamsters, and mice can have as much fun as the large pets since there are even more creative ways of making playful mazes, interactive games, and obstacle courses. To prevent injuries or an unintentional game of hide-and-seek, keep small mammals in enclosed space. Large cages or hutches, like the Flemish Giant Hutch, are spacious and sturdy enough to turn it into a temporary playhouse for your furball.
If you’re stuck in a cramped flat with a giant dog breed like the Great Dane or Doberman Pinscher, things might get a bit tricky. Utilizing a treadmill (if you have one) can, in this case, be a lifesaver. Your pooch may be a bit wary initially, but as soon as he gets used to the shape of the machine, it will become his new favorite plaything.
Don’t forget mental enrichment!
As much as they need regular exercise, our pets need a proper brain workout to stay healthy and thrive. Mental stimulation is best done through fun and play, so turn a training session into an engaging activity. For example, you can use stuffed toys and name each one differently. Hide them around the house and let your dog find them by the given name. This advanced version of “fetch” is fantastic for teaching retrieval.
There are hundreds of brain games and puzzles for cats available online, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can make a simple DIY one at home. Place your cat’s favorite treats or toys into a see-through container (like a Tupperware box) and cut two or three medium-sized holes in the lid or the top. Watch your cat eagerly toss the box around while trying to get the treats out of the container.
Logic toys are great for practicing problem-solving, and there are affordable ones available for cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, and other small pets. You can even make them yourself, using cylindrical or square containers, some rope, and little quality research. Logic toys usually involve the pet figuring out how to open a lid, move a piece to get to a treat or find a way to escape from a maze. Not only are they entertaining, but also very cognitively enriching.
Last resort options - prepare for emergencies
As much as we all hope to get through the pandemic infection-free, there’s always a chance of catching the virus. As responsible pet parents, our job is to make sure there’s someone to take in and care for our animal family members.
Ask a friend or a relative to step in if you get ill or unable to stay home for a longer time. There are also services that provide pet sitters, or you can look up for people who are willing to temporarily foster pets in times of crisis. Healthy and safe means being responsible and realistic; the same goes for our pets.
Author John Woods
John is the founder of AllThingsDogs.com, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a graduate in Animal Behavior and Welfare, and a recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America. He has come on board as an author for a number of blog posts promoting training tips, care, and activities we can do with our pets.
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