Currently, the coronavirus pandemic is pushing a lot of people indoors, changing their access to supplies and services, and effectively distancing people from others and their daily routine. For pet owners, these social distancing measures might present more complications than expected.
As people rush to stock up on food and other necessities, take a moment to consider the animals of your house. With the unpredictability of closures, it’s a good idea to be prepared in case food, medicine, or other pet necessities are a bit harder to access.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few of the major points you should consider when it comes to taking care of your pets during social distancing and ongoing quarantine measures. We’ll also cover ways to alleviate pet stress if their routine has been interrupted by changes.
Supplies, Behaviors, and Expectations: Pets in Quarantine
1. Stock up for pets
While full blown panic is never great, people are a bit more frenzied than usual during their store trips at the moment. Overstocking on toilet paper or buying all the canned goods, for example. Still, as you make your way through the store in prep for quarantine, remember that your pets will need food, treats, and other supplies as well.
It’s a good idea to grab shelf stable food just in case it’s harder to get more later, based on availability or travel restrictions. A large bag of dry food, even if it’s not your pet’s favorite, is better than no food for a few days.
2. Care for your pets mind, too
If your pet is used to a certain routine, whether that’s long walks at a dog park or a certain amount of interaction while you’re home, be prepared to help your pet adjust to any necessary changes. If you can’t go out as often, keep up with exercise suited for indoors. If you’re home more often than usual, keep an eye out for behavioral changes and be sure to give pets their space so they’re not overwhelmed by the shift.
Like people, all pets across all species will vary in terms of their tolerance for change. Some animals may love the additional company and change of routine, but other pets may get stressed. Be mindful of this if you suddenly have to work from home or stay indoors for days at a time.
3. But don’t neglect the exercise
While a good many pets are primarily indoor pets, and thus get their exercise the same way regardless of quarantine measures, some pets may need more exercise than others. Typically this means dogs. Dogs are often the most used to longer outdoor walks and activities, so don’t neglect their needs.
It’s important to comply with any social distancing or legal quarantine measures implemented by your local government, so don’t just go to a dog park that’s been closed. Find indoor activities that can still stimulate your pets mentally and physically. Get creative or keep it simple, as long as your pet is getting 30-60 minutes of daily activity, it should be enough until things start to open up again.
4. Pet grooming and medical care
Depending on the severity of need and individual local rulings, grooming and lower level clinics may be considered ‘non-essential’ or have decided individually not to remain open. If your pet is the type that needs frequent grooming, or if you were about to hit the usual time of year for occasional grooming, you should prepare to switch services or have an unkempt pet on your hands.
Similarly, specialty clinics (like those for reptiles, birds, or other less common issues or pets) may not have their usual staff on hand. If an issue comes up, they may have emergency availability, but it’s hard to guarantee. For both grooming and clinical needs, be sure to call or email your vet and groomers to see what their availability is.
Start with the vet. If your pet needs any sort of ongoing medication or prescription, be sure to ask about advances or other forward looking responses to that need as well. Unless your pet’s health is tied to their grooming, it may be wise to simply wait altogether to reduce your chance of exposure.
Being displaced due to quarantine measures is never ideal. But, for a silver linings approach, now may be an excellent time to invest a bit more in your pets’ lives. Training and quality time are excellent ways to bond with your pet. Consider the previous caveats about maintaining a healthy routine, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid or neglect your pet.
Your pets will likely respond with a sense of curiosity or indifference if you’re suddenly home all day. Now is a good time to assess any changes in behavior that you may not have had time to monitor during your regular schedule. Are your pets eating well, are they appropriately active for their breed/species/lifestyle, has your presence been a big, small, or insignificant influence on their usual behavior.
People with pets often forget how much of their time is spent away from those same animals, and since many are now in a situation where options to leave the house are extremely limited, they will not be spending a significantly greater amount of time at home. Use that time to learn a bit more about your pet.