While the family is cooped up at home, your day looks nothing like your normal routine, and everyone is likely feeling the effects, including your pet. Between homeschooling the kids, connecting to Zoom meetings, and making homemade masks out of bandanas, you can easily forget about your furry pal’s needs. But, she’s feeling the strain too, and needs a little extra TLC during this difficult time. Here are our five tips to help you remember your pet’s needs, and to keep her safe, while you all have to stay home.
#1: Stock up on essential supplies for your pet
You are probably trying to grab as much food as possible at the grocery store, to avoid leaving the house, but have you checked your pet’s food supply lately? Instead of venturing out, have your pet’s food shipped directly to your door, although—like many other services—companies are experiencing lack of supplies, as well as shipping delays, and your pet’s food may take longer than usual to arrive. Order at least two weeks before your pet runs out, to avoid having to switch to another food, which may cause your pet gastrointestinal (GI) issues.
While taking inventory, don’t forget about your pet’s medications, and heartworm, flea, and tick preventives. If your pet needs a medication refill, call our office before heading out, so we can prepare your pet’s prescription, and bring it to your car. However, If your pet needs prescription food or preventive refills, it’s best to log on to Lebanon Animal Hospital’s online pharmacy for heartworm, flea, and tick medications, as well as your pet’s prescription diet. With AutoShip, your pet’s essentials will be delivered right to your front door.
#2: Add pet necessities to your first-aid kit
An emergency visit to the veterinarian is the last thing you need during the pandemic, so stock your first aid kit with pet-friendly supplies, in case your pet gets into mischief. This way, you can administer first aid, while connecting with us via the Medici app, to determine whether your pet requires a trip to our hospital. Ensure your first-aid kit is pet-ready with the following supplies:
- Bandage supplies
- Sterile saline
- Antibiotic ointment
- Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Activated charcoal
- Large syringes, without needles, for wound flushing
If your pet does get herself into trouble, follow the American Veterinary Medical Association’s first aid guidelines, and contact us right away.
#3: Create a safe haven for your pet
You probably assume that your pet loves having your entire family home all day, but she may be wondering why her daily naptime has been interrupted. Any schedule changes, including those that grant your pet more attention than usual, can cause stress and anxiety. And, if you have small children who are running around at top speed, and climbing on your pet, she may be wishing quarantine were over. To preserve her sanity, create a quiet space in a back room where she can escape the family chaos. Fill her retreat with a cozy bed, her favorite toys, and a Kong filled with frozen peanut butter-slathered kibble, and she’ll appreciate the get-away. Let kids know that this area is off-limits, to give your pet some much-needed alone time.
#4: Provide an outlet for your pet’s pent-up energy
Although snuggling on the couch with your pet while binge-watching your favorite Netflix series is tempting, it’s important for you both to keep moving. Your pet needs daily exercise, and walking outside is quarantine-approved, so get out and enjoy the fresh air whenever you can. On weekend days, check out a nearby, less-used walking path, or secluded hiking trail.
On days you can’t make it outside, stave off cabin fever by creating fun games that will mentally stimulate your four-legged family member, such as:
- Food puzzles — Ditch your pet’s boring food dish, and make her work for her dinner with a food puzzle. Or, sprinkle her kibble in a muffin tin, and add a tennis ball to each depression, so she has to nose around the balls to find her food. This will not only get your pet’s brain working, but also prevent her from wolfing down her meal.
- Hide and seek — Command your dog to stay, and then hide somewhere in the house. Call her, and see how long she takes to find you. Encourage her participation by rewarding her with praise and a treat.
- Whack-a-mole — Appeal to your cat’s inner predator by creating a whack-a-mole game. Cut circles in the bottom of a cardboard box, peek a feather wand through the holes, and entice her to catch the “bird.”
#5: Keep your pet safe during family projects
You are probably preventing boredom with a variety of baking, craft, home improvement, and gardening projects. Keep in mind that supplies used for these projects can pose a hazard to your pet, so ensure you store dangerous items out of paws’ reach, and keep your pet out of harm’s way when you are working on these activities. Watch out for these items, in particular:
- Toxic foods — Common snack foods, such as grapes, raisins, and chocolate, which may all make their way into your kids’ trail mix, are toxic to pets. Also, if you decide to try your hand at homemade bread or pizza, be aware that raw yeast dough can cause a GI obstruction in your pet, or alcohol toxicity, as the dough releases alcohol as it ferments.
- Craft supplies — Glue, popsicle sticks, fuzzy pom poms, and pipecleaners may look like fun, new toys to your pet, who may gobble them down while your kids are busy creating a masterpiece.
- Home improvement items — Heavy tools, nails, Gorilla Glue, and paint can all pose a hazard to your pet, so keep her away from your construction zone.
- Lawn and garden products — Fertilizers, insecticides, and lawn treatments can be poisonous to pets, so follow all package instructions carefully, and store these chemicals safely out of your pet’s reach, to prevent a toxic reaction.
Life will be back to normal before we know it, we hope, but during these trying times, our Lebanon Animal Hospital team is here for you. If, despite your best efforts, your pet needs our services, contact us before heading out, and we’ll update you on our most recent protocols.