With most Americans under some sort of 'shelter in place' order continuing through the spring, one side effect is often that family pets are also under restricted movement. How can you keep your dogs and cats healthy while they're stuck at home with you? Here are a few of the most important steps to take.
1. Consult With Your Veterinarian. Veterinarians are generally a service considered essential by communities under 'lockdown'. So, keep in good contact with your pet's veterinarian during this time of unprecedented change. Talk to the vet with any concerns about changes in eating habits or the appearance of lethargy, ask about healthy levels of exercise for your pet's particular health or age, and ensure that the animal stays updated with vaccines and therapies.
2. Keep Ahead of Supplies. Families are encouraged to keep about two weeks' worth of food and necessary supplies on hand. This goes for your pets as well — particularly if they take any medications, eat prescribed pet food, or have health aids or supplies that they cannot enjoy a comfortable life without. While you don't need to 'hoard' pet supplies, stay ahead of your needs so as to avoid any delays from shipping issues.
3. Use In-Home Stimulation. Pets who can't go out for exercise as freely as they normally do need stimulation just like their owners do. The good news is that when you play indoors with your dogs and cats, you also get mentally stimulated and physically active. Design home games for pets, such as by playing fetch with dogs or tying strings and feathers to sticks to play with your cats. Look online or talk to your vet for more creative ideas to play meaningfully with your furry friends.
4. Be Careful With Food. With the whole family at home much more than normal, your pet might end up getting more treats and human food than they normally do. Remind kids what is or is not safe to share with the family pets. And be careful not to let them have more table scraps than they normally get. Keep feeding schedules regular and consistent with their pre-isolation routine.
5. Enjoy Your Pets. Dogs and cats — and just about any other kind of pet — are a source of joy and comfort for people who are socially distancing. Enjoy this expanded time with your own. As you spend time and cuddle together, you will be more keenly aware of any potential health or mood changes in them. You are your pet's first line of defense from any negative effects of home isolation, so be alert and involved.
Keeping your kitty or doggy safe and happy is an important goal during self-isolation. By staying ahead of their health needs, stimulating them mentally and physically, and spending quality time together, your whole family — four four-legged and two-legged — will come out of this healthy and strong.
Whether you have had a pet cat for years or you just bought a new fish tank filled with fish for your children, you likely enjoy learning more about your favorite animals and how you can help keep them in good health. We created this website to help pet owners like you learn more about their beloved pets healthcare needs. We plan to post the answers to many of your pet health-related questions on this website, such as how to choose the right food for your fish, how to encourage your indoor cat to exercise when they need to lose a pound or two, and how to know when your dog's strange behavior may signal an illness. If you cannot find the answers to your pet health questions here, we hope you can use our resources to find the answers elsewhere.