As summer approaches, we’ll find ourselves flocking outdoors to get as much of that summer…
The COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for everyone. On a fundamental level, it has altered or disrupted how we live our daily lives, including work, interacting with others, and how we relax. That’s true for everyone — even our pets.
As we follow social distancing guidelines and other mandates that allow us to stay safe, we’ve learned to find ways to relieve some of the strain of our temporary new lifestyles. Whether it is finding a new hobby, taking a walk somewhere quiet, or some other pursuit, we recognise that it is vital for us to look after our quality of life.
It’s important to note that these things are critical for our pets as well, and there are things we can do as pet owners to ensure our companions are set up to make the most of the pandemic.
Create new pathways
Whether you have a cat or dog, they are likely spending a lot more time around your home — or around you — than they are used to in their lives. There are basic things you can do to help to make our pets’ daily lives seem fresh and exciting.
For cats, it can sometimes leave a door that they usually aren’t allowed inside cracked open so they can go inside.
Cats love to perch, so creating access to window sills and other elevated seating positions are vital for a cat’s emotional well-being. Even putting their beds in an elevated place can help them feel like they have a safe space.
For dogs, maximizing the space available to them is critical. Consider installing a dog flap that will allow your canine access to the yard. Some breeds are known for having excess energy that can turn destructive when they get bored — a problem that can come up often for people who work remotely and must stay socially distant and therefore can’t take them out as often.
By creating a pathway into the garden, this allows the dogs to go outside and explore. Cats also frequently figure out how to use these dog flaps and can take the opportunity to expand their territory or hunt.
Don’t skimp on the toys
We don’t always have the time we need to engage with our animals. Toys aren’t just fun playthings for our pets; they are tools that make it easy for us to provide attention to our pets.
For cats, instead of having to pick them up, to cuddle them and give them all the attention they (sometimes) demand, it’s possible to use a laser pointer or a toy dangled from a stick to engage with them casually. This will require minimal attention, but your cat will still get the stimulation that they seek, which they are generally OK with
For dogs, taking a few minutes to throw a ball is a quick way to get adequate exercise for your pet without having to wander far from home risk dealing with the public.
Monitor diet for changes in activity level
Watching what our pets eat during the pandemic is probably a lesson we learned the hard way for ourselves. Food is comfort and being at home is a comfortable place.
Now that we do almost everything from home, it’s never been easier to eat ourselves to sizes we never expected.
This combination of lethargy, comfort, and access to food is a problem your pets also face during this pandemic.
In a case of pets resembling their owners, their behavior will somewhat mirror yours. If you don’t go out, they don’t go out. If you get bored and eat, there’s no reason they wouldn’t do the same.
If you share your food with your pets from time to time, there’s a lot more of that happening as well.
Can you see how that all adds up? Consider trying different foods that are both high quality and useful for weight management. Also, consider timed feedings of specific amounts.
The more a pet’s weight gets out of control, the harder it’s going to be for them to resume normal activities once the pandemic has passed.
And honestly, the mindfulness that comes from managing a pet’s diet can certainly be a motivator to look after one’s own health.
This pandemic won’t last forever. We’ll be outside more, among people, and living our lives. Our pets will go back to their regular routines. But until that happens, we can take the steps necessary to help them have as much normalcy as possible. We are the only ones who can provide it for them.