Our pets have noticed that we’re spending much more time at home with them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And we’re pretty sure that some of them think that we now understand the “being-at-home-all-day-boredom-syndrome” that many pets struggle with.
But pets are savvy, and they may know that you’re not just at home on a staycation – something’s up. How we handle our stress during this pandemic can affect our pets and may cause them to feel anxious, and in some cases, exhibit nervous behaviors (urinating or defecating in the house, destructive/aggressive behavior, excessive barking, restlessness, hiding, and repetitive or compulsive behaviors).
Dogs and cats respond best to calm, patient, and reassuring attitudes from their humans. In other words, if you’re calm, they’ll be calm.
We can best help our pets by maintaining a healthy routine and taking good care of our own mental and physical health so that we can remain attentive and patient with them. Additionally, here are a few specific recommendations to help you and your pets during self-isolation or stay at home orders.
Food & Medicine
Keeping your pets on the same diet regimen as much as possible is recommended for maintaining their health and wellness. The stress of a change in the family or daily routine can also reveal itself in the digestive system, so changing a diet, or over/under feeding (and giving treats!) during this time, could make matters worse for you. There are a few great online resources for your supplies so you don’t need to go out. Consider having at least a 2-4 week supply on hand. And be sure to have plenty of fresh water available all day.
Exercise & Enrichment
Just as we need to move and be entertained to stay healthy and well-balanced, so do our furry companions. In fact, it’s critical to their well-being.
For dogs, walks, hikes and runs are the easy go-to for our canine friends as long as they are strong and healthy enough to keep up with the activity. Even on rainy days, use the stairs or a treadmill. When dogs get bored, they find ways to amuse themselves, and that could be when destructive behavior sets in. Enrichment should also be an everyday part of our dogs’ lives. Consider hide and seek ‘where’s the treat?’ games, chewing time (no-hide chews, dental sticks, etc.), reading them a story, watching animal-centric TV, tug of war, catch, musical chairs, teaching a trick, etc.
For cats, even for the most finicky felines, there are many ways that you can enrich each day. Importantly, find the activity that your cat enjoys the most, to get the most out of it. Consider cat furniture for climbing, playing, and scratching. This can be a tall, multi-level cat tree, or something as simple as a cardboard box. Read them a book. Place a birdbath or bird feeder within sight of the window. Play with string, feathers, pointers, and fabric strips (an be sure to let them win!). Make or buy food puzzles so they hunt. Low-cost (or no-cost) options are wadded-up paper, foil balls, snuffle mat, and plastic rings from milk jugs. Toss a variety of objects to see which ones she’s most interested in chasing. Watch an online video for cats such as an aquarium or bird/squirrel environments. And if applicable, put on a harness and take her/him for a walk.
Every veterinary community is handling the response to the pandemic uniquely- but regular veterinary care is still important. Most practices are now offering curbside drop-off and pick up until further notice, and many practices are only providing essential services. Check with your primary care veterinarian’s clinic as to what their hours are – and note that things could change without notice. The COVE remains open 24/7 for emergency and critical care services. Please click here to review our current COVID-19 protocols and schedule for surgery, cardiology, and dental care.
Please stay home if there is any risk you or someone in your immediate family/social circle may be sick. Make arrangements for someone else to bring your animal to us and have that caretaker approved to make medical decisions and payment.
If you have any questions about our services or COVID-19 protocols, please call us anytime at 757-935-9111.
The COVE’s veterinarians and staff wholeheartedly embrace the core values of community, collaboration, commitment, compassion, and integrity. This focus ensures that pets, the people who love them, and their primary care veterinarians have as positive and affirming a healthcare experience as possible, regardless of the circumstances that bring us all together.