How to keep your pet happy and healthy during lockdown (and beyond)
Here's how to help make routine pet care more enjoyable – for you and your animal.
If you're one of the lucky people who has had a pet for company during COVID-19 restrictions, you'll know how much joy they can bring – especially when you're stressed or down.
And whether or not you're returning to the office sometime soon, changes in routine can be stressful for pets, too. So how do you make sure they're staying happy and healthy amid all this coronavirus chaos?
Well, beyond a bit of exercise and lots of love and affection, there are some other important things you can do to keep your pet's mental and physical health in tip-top shape.
1. Focus on their food
Before social distancing, you might not have had the time to prepare fresh food for your pet, but now's the perfect time to try your hand at baking animal-friendly biscuits.
It's a fun activity for you, and it means your pet gets to try something new – but it's also a great way of knowing exactly what your animal is eating. Not only can it help them stay fit and healthy, it can also reduce gastrointestinal upsets and unwanted trips to the vet.
If you're not the most celebrated baker, consider treating your pet to some special food or healthy snacks. If money is a little tight, there's usually some healthy "people food" that you can share with your pet. Just be sure to do your research first. If you're uncertain, chat to your vet.
It's also easy to forget that food can be used as a way to keep your pet engaged and active. Turn dinner time into a game. You can hide your pet's food around the house or garden and encourage them to find it for themselves, or you can buy a toy which dispenses food as they move it around. Both are a great way to keep your pet mentally stimulated and physically active.
2. Keep up their grooming
It's easy to make less of an effort with our appearance when we're not leaving the house as often, but forgetting to groom your pet can have a negative impact on their health.
Regular grooming helps prevent fleas and ticks, reduces the risk of ear infections, and – importantly – is a great way to catch any abnormalities early.
Remember, it's understandable if you or your pet are feeling a little more anxious than usual, but try to groom your pet when he or she is more relaxed. Make sure they've worked off lots of their energy before getting started and reward them with treats for good behaviour throughout.
If you've never groomed your pet at home before, here are some key tips:
- Brush regularly. Depending on the type of hair or fur your pet has, you'll probably need to brush daily or weekly at a minimum. Don't wash your pet if they haven't been properly brushed as it'll create matting.
- Keep them clean. Talk to your vet about how often your pet should be bathed. Always use animal-specific shampoo.
- Keep an eye on claws. Use clippers designed specifically for pet nails if you need to trim them. If you're worried about doing it yourself, there are lots of video guides online.
- Look out for ears and eyes. You can use a moist piece of cotton wool to clean sensitive ears and eyes without hurting your pet.
3. Exercise is more important than ever
If your pet loves to run around the park, you're still allowed to take them out. If you feel safe to do so, try to make a long walk part of your daily routine. It's good for your health, as well as theirs.
If you don't feel safe leaving the house, don't put your health at risk. But remember, you can always ask a friend or neighbour to take your dog instead. There are even apps that can pair you with a stranger who's looking for a dog to walk.
For animals that aren't as fond of the park, play time is also a good way for them to get some exercise. Toys can encourage movement, while hiding treats in different spots is also a good way to keep your animal active.
4. Don't forget the vet
Vets are still open – and they're not just for emergencies. After all, prevention is better than cure. Regular check-ups are a great way to prevent any health problems with your pet and to get expert advice on looking after your much-loved animal.
Vets are implementing strict social distancing measures, but if you're worried, some vets are providing services via video – and it might even be covered by your insurer. Knose's Pet Health Hotline and Woolworth's VetAssist, for example, can connect you to a vet via online chat or video.
5. Get them toys – and play!
If there's one positive to come out of the current situation, it's that we get to spend a bit more time with our pets – but it can be distracting for those of us who are working from home.
Thankfully, toys can keep your pet entertained while you do your day job. Interactive toys can stimulate their minds and can keep them busy for hours. But remember, the most important thing is to make some time to play with your animal; they'll love the attention and it's a great way to get them moving.
6. Consider pet insurance
We know money is tight for a lot of people right now, so buying pet insurance might not be top of your list. However, if your pet's health was to take a turn for the worse, getting it might be one of the best decisions you ever made.
Pet insurance can help cover the cost of surgery – which can easily be thousands of dollars – but it can also help with everyday expenses.
In fact, if you add routine care cover to your pet insurance policy, you can get financial help for things like flea and worming treatments. Knose even offers pet care plans that deliver flea, tick and worming medication to your door, so you can avoid a trip to the vet.
Remember, don't beat yourself up if you skip a daily groom once in a while, or ignore your pet while you're on an important work call. It doesn't make you a bad animal owner, just human.
However, if you build these healthcare tips into your routine, they'll help your pet stay healthier and happier. Plus, it's a great way to say thank you for all the times they've lifted your spirits.
Disclaimer: This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before applying for any products mentioned, please read the product terms and conditions and consider whether that product is right for you.