With lockdown now in place pet owners across the UK are either social distancing or self isolating. Blue Cross is looking at the impact this will have on the nations’s pets and their owners during this unsettling time and is offering essential advice and answering the many questions on pet owners minds.
Those social distancing can still take their dog for a walk and exercise once a day but they MUST keep their distance from other people by at least two metres. However, if self isolating because they, or a member of their household, has had signs of the disease they should not go out at all. Someone from outside of the household may have to take their dog out for them. Owners can ask friends, neighbours or family members if they can help and there are also increasingly numbers of community groups offering to walk dogs and pick up essential pet supplies. Affected owners can check local media and social media to find someone in their area. Volunteer dog walkers should use their own dog lead or disinfect the owner’s lead.
It is important pet owners wash their hands after handling their pets, and if unwell and self isolating it is also a good idea to avoid other people stroking and handling their pets.
If pets aren’t getting their usual amount of exercise it is important owners make up for this to keep pets healthy and mentally stimulated. The charity has some tips for pet owners while they are spending more time at home:
- Encourage pets to play with toys and treats by hiding them around the home or playing fetch (make sure toys are soft to avoid damaging any household items) and even play hide and seek with pets and other family members – especially fun for children at home while schools are closed too. Don’t forget if playing with pets using extra treats you may need to reduce the amount they have for their daily meal.
- Your dog might also enjoy might enjoy a game of tug with a favourite toy, make sure these are controlled games and your pet understands that when you put their tuggy toy down it is time to stop. Pets can also be kept busy by having their food via a kong or activity toy.
- Cats will benefit from having scratch posts, climbing apparatus and chase toys and many also enjoy playing with toys such as feather wands and balls. While at home, all the family can take some time out to have a few minutes of regular playtime with their cat – fun for both cats and their owners.
- Hide biscuits or food parcels in a cardboard box filled with shredded paper or a cleaned out yoghurt drink pot for pets to bat about to release the food.
- Being at home could also be a time to continue pet training – even cats can be trained using a clicker device where they understand a reward is coming for an act they are doing when asked by their owner.
- If pets are becoming a distraction while trying to work from home and to avoid them becoming too clingy (potentially leading to dogs suffering from separation anxiety when their owners go back to work) it is a good idea to pop them in another room to rest for periods during the day. Owners may also benefit from putting pets in another room if using skype or phone meetings to avoid pets being a distraction.
- Cats who usually spend the day outdoors exploring may prefer to stay in with their owners instead. Owners can encourage their cat to go outside by going into the garden themselves and let them follow and see if they will jump onto fences or into trees to keep them active.
Pet owners regularly using hand sanitiser should remember that many cleaning products are toxic to pets and it is best to avoid stroking and handling your pets straight after using sanitisers. When cleaning, remember that pets should be kept away from areas being disinfected until completely dry and prevent pets going near cleaning buckets and cleaning products. Cats in particular will lick their paws and fur almost immediately if they feel unclean and such products can potentially burn their mouth, tongue or throat.
Find out the situation with your vet practice and where emergency treatment is being offered. Some vet practices are offering routine and non-urgent consultations remotely and any medication needed prescriptions via email to order online.
Blue Cross is offering free coronavirus update emails for latest news and tips about keeping pets healthy and mentally stimulated with easy to make games and play ideas during the Covid-19 outbreak. Visit www.bluecross.org.uk/coronavirus for more information and to sign up to our emails.