The Coronavirus has all of us in a tizzy! We are all trying to think about how to keep ourselves and our families safe during this time, but don’t forget to think about your pets, too!
There are many things you can do to help keep your furry friends (dogs in particular) entertained during a home quarantine. Remember one of my previous posts about A Tired Puppy is a Good Puppy? Well, this concept remains true especially during a quarantine when opportunities for mental and physical stimulation may be few. For physical exercise, try taking your dog for a walk on sunny days. The vitamin D and exercise will be good for both you and your pet. When a walk is not possible, try throwing a frisbee or a ball in the yard for your dog until they are sufficiently tired. If you have a close neighbor whose dog also needs to let off some steam, perhaps you can schedule an outdoor play date while still distancing yourselves from their people. Going to the dog park may be too much exposure in a time when social distancing is key.
Mental exercise can be more difficult, but with a little advanced planning can be easy peasy! Have a selection of toys for your dog that you rotate. Change the toy selection on a daily basis that they have access to. Everyday, when you unveil the “new” selection of toys to your dog, they will perceive them all as being brand new since they haven’t interacted with them in a day or two. This helps to keep the fun alive with individual play time.
Purchasing extra traditional KONGs of appropriate sizes can be helpful when you are on a video conference call with work and need to keep your pup quiet for an extended period of time. KONGs can be frozen in advance with diluted low sodium chicken broth (to make what I like to call a “pup-sicle”), peanut butter, or any other stuffing that your dog enjoys. In this way, they will have to work on getting the contents out of the KONG a little while longer than if it wasn’t frozen. Alternatively, KONG sells other stuffings and treats that don’t have to be frozen and can be applied to any of their toys to keep pets mentally happy. Other KONG toys that can be useful for theses treats and stuffings are the Wobbler, Goodie Bone, or Genius.
Remember – all of this should be done in moderation! Too many additional treats can cause pets to gain weight quickly. If pets are getting less exercise than they were before social distancing was put into place, their food should also be reduced to reflect this decrease in calorie usage. If this sounds like gibberish to you – speak with your veterinarian about the appropriate caloric intake your pet should have on a daily basis with their new exercise routine.
Don’t forget about the cats! Having a large supply of catnip (which you can easily grow on your own at home) can be enough to keep this more independent species entertained during their many hours at home. Place catnip in 2-3 different areas of your home everyday so your cat must go “hunt” for those spaces that smell so good! You may just find your feline friend rolling around in their catnip and purring up a storm! Success! Other enrichment ideas would be to rearrange the location of cat towers and cat trees in your home, potentially even putting a few by windows allowing for better viewing angles to birds and squirrels outside.
Tell me about creative things you have done to help keep your pets mentally and physically happy and healthy during your period of social distancing and home quarantine below! Stay safe everyone!