As many of us are spending more time indoors, it’s important that we do everything in our power to keep our animal companions – and ourselves – healthy and safe. So how can we make sure we take the best care of our cats and dogs while stuck at home? Here are some tips and tricks for keeping them feeling their best:
- Don’t allow people who are known or suspected to be sick with COVID-19 to come into close contact with animals. This is because animals’ fur can become contaminated with the virus and, on very rare occasions, animals themselves can catch COVID-19. If you become sick with COVID-19 and have an animal companion, if possible, have another member of the household care for that animal while you have symptoms.
- Avoid touching any animals who are not members of your household.
- Never put facemasks on animals, as they can cause breathing difficulties.
- Don’t stockpile unnecessarily, as this results in shortages for others – but do plan ahead and ensure you have adequate food for your companion animals (approximately two to three weeks’ worth).
- Don’t cage or crate your animals. Let them move around your home as they normally would.
- If your animal companion requires special medical attention, like medication or a specific kind of food, speak to your vet about getting extra supplies.
- Seek veterinary attention if your animal companion is unwell. Most practices are open and seeing animals in need of urgent attention, and if your usual surgery is closed, it’ll be able to direct you to one that can help.
- Assist neighbours who may not be able to shop for or walk their companion animals.
- Donate companion-animal food to food banks.
- Arrange for your dogs to have as much time outside as possible. Use your coffee, tea, or lunch break to walk them around the neighbourhood while keeping your distance from others.
- Always keep your cats inside. It’s more important than ever to do this now. If your cat goes missing, you might not be allowed to leave the house to look for him or her. If you’d like to take your cats outside, we suggest buying well-fitting harnesses.
- Play with your companions! Put small treats inside a bit of scrunched-up newspaper and hide it inside a cardboard box for dogs and cats to sniff out. Tie a length of string to the end of a stick and dangle or drag it for your cat to play with. The possibilities are endless – just make sure you give them as much attention as you can.
- Play music for your animal companions. Did you know dogs love reggae? A study found it keeps them calm and happy in the most stressful of situations. If your pup is exhibiting nervous behaviour, try playing Bob Marley and the Wailers’ greatest hits – these canine-friendly tunes should help your dog feel relaxed.
If you’re an animal guardian living by yourself, take time to create an emergency plan for your furry friend if you fall ill and require hospitalisation.
Working From Home? Consider Fostering an Animal
Local shelters are most likely feeling the impact of this pandemic, too. We encourage you to foster a dog or cat if you’re able to. Since many of us are working from home now, taking in an animal temporarily could make a big difference to shelters by relieving the pressure they’re under.
Looking after your animal companions is extremely important, but so is looking out for all other animals! Our work doesn’t stop just because we’re trapped indoors – in fact, we can do so much from behind our screens. And it’s the perfect time for a resurgence in empathy towards our fellow humans and other animals.