With the COVID-19 crisis still looming large around the country, you’re likely spending a lot more time at home with your pet. Since pet ownership has been proven to lower stress, reduce anxiety, and decrease high blood pressure, you want to ensure your furry stress-reliever remains in tip-top shape, for your sake and hers. Although normal routines have been disrupted during this pandemic, you can still provide great care for your pet’s health, happiness, and well-being. Here are five things you should do.

#1: Stick to a regular schedule for you and your pet

Since the day you first welcomed your pet into your home, you likely developed a routine for mealtimes, play, exercise, and sleep. When COVID-19 entered the picture, your schedule was thrown into chaos, and may no longer exist. With the kids home from school, and you and your spouse working remotely, sticking to your normal schedule is likely a challenge. But, pets thrive on knowing what to expect in their environments and from their families, and they can easily become stressed and anxious when their regular routine is disrupted. Keep your calm, despite the stress you’re all experiencing, and adhere to your normal schedule. Feeding your furry pal at the usual time, and spending time with her each day exercising and playing, is vital. 

#2: Do not overfeed your pet while in quarantine

With the fear and anxiety of coping with the coronavirus pandemic, stress eating is on many household menus. If you’re prone to extra snack sessions when under stress, you may sneak your four-legged friend a few additional treats, as you work your way through your stash of Girl Scout cookies, but adding calories while reducing exercise is a surefire formula for weight gain. Maintain your pet’s sleek figure by sticking to her regular feeding schedule, and limiting extra treats. If you have the space, engage your pet in daily indoor games and activities, or head outside for exercise. Physical activity releases feel-good endorphins, which will provide a much-needed mood boost for you and your pet. 

#3: Ensure you have plenty of pet supplies

During any troubling time, stocking up on necessities is crucial for keeping your family healthy and happy. When it comes to your pet, running out of a prescription diet or medication can harm her health, so stock up well in advance, preferably before you notice her food, treats, litter, or medications, are getting low. Many manufacturers are currently unable to keep up with demands, which is leading to out-of-stock products, and shipping delays. A sudden diet change can cause a gastrointestinal upset in your pet, and purchasing enough food to last two to four weeks is recommended. In addition to food, ensure your furry pal has enough medication, including parasite preventives, to last for a month. You can contact us at Walnut Creek Vet Hospital to refill your pet’s medications.

#4: Create a contingency plan in case you cannot care for your pet

Although new coronavirus cases appear to be plateauing, you or a loved one may still be exposed to the virus, and fall ill. If that happens, and you need someone else to care for your pet during your recovery, be prepared with a pet-care plan that includes pertinent information, such as feeding instructions, medication doses, exercise routine, and any other quirks that are part of your pet’s care. Also, put together a list of important contact numbers. Ensure you include the number for Walnut Creek Vet Hospital as a potential pet caretaker.

#5: Provide mental and physical enrichment to keep your pet entertained

Without appropriate mental and physical enrichment, your pet can succumb to boredom-induced behaviors, such as anxiety, destruction, excessive vocalization, and inappropriate elimination. Keeping your pet mentally satisfied is especially important for emotional and physical health and well-being during a stressful pandemic. Here are a few suggestions for providing your pet with mental and physical enrichment:

  • Feed your pet from food puzzles — Create your own puzzle with folded cardboard tubes, or snuffle mats or boxes, or use stuffed Kongs, to ensure your pet works for each meal.
  • Teach your pet new tricks — Use a favorite treat or toy to encourage learning new tricks and skills.
  • Cater to your pet’s natural instincts — Dogs enjoy sniffing and digging, so sniffing out treats in the backyard, or unraveling snacks from a blanket, are excellent ways to pass the time. Cats love stalking and pouncing games, so entice your feline friend to play with robotic, interactive toys, such as motorized mice or feather wands. 

Ensure your pet has some form of daily mental and physical enrichment that will provide an acceptable outlet for her pent-up energy, and minimize stress and anxiety.

If your pet needs veterinary care during the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Walnut Creek Vet Hospital is here to nurse your best friend back to health. We ask that you reschedule nonessential services, such as wellness visits and nail trims, but we are still caring for pets in urgent or emergency situations, to prevent unnecessary suffering. If your pet has fallen ill or becomes injured, contact us for an appointment, and check out our most current policies designed to keep our community safe.