With most countries still enforcing strict lockdown measures, it’s fair to say that our daily lives have changed immeasurably in recent weeks. As well as taking extra precautions to protect our own health, dog lovers are going above and beyond to ensure their canine companions remain safe and well.
While research into the potential transmission of COVID-19 to pets are still on-going, there are other risk factors associated with lockdown that you need to be aware of. If you want to ensure your pup is faring well, take a look at these top tips for keeping your dog healthy during lockdown…
1. Know your veterinarian’s updated policies
Most veterinarian’s have been unable to operate as normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able make routine appointments or non-essential visits. However, you still need to know what the protocols are, in case your dog requires urgent medical care.
Some veterinary practices have closed some offices but kept central hubs open, for example, while others are implementing strict drop off and pick up procedures. Responding to a canine emergency is stressful enough, so don’t wait to find out what your vet’s new policies are. Take the time to familiarise yourself with their new methods of operating and you’ll be prepared for any eventuality.
2. Keep your dog active
Currently, most countries are insisting that people stay at home unless they need to undertake essential travel. However, many places, including the UK, are permitting people to engage in daily exercise outside the home. In addition to this, dog walkers are able to walk their pets in public, providing they follow social distancing rules.
We all know how stressful things can get when dogs don’t get enough exercise, so take the opportunity to exercise your dog sensibly, according to the regulations in your own region.
3. Prevent overfeeding
Despite dog owners being permitted to take their dogs for a walk, your furry friend is going to be getting less exercise than normal. This means you’ll need to assess their food intake to prevent them from gaining excess weight.
If your dog regularly wolfs their meals, you can try a number of strategies to make mealtimes calmer. An elevated food bowl can be a great way to make feeding time more comfortable for dogs, which means they’re less likely to experience digestive issues. Alternatively, try using a slow-feeding toy and make your dog work for its reward.
4. Keep your dog on a lead
If you do take your dog out in public, it’s advisable to keep them on a lead at all times. Although different areas have issued varying advice, most dog owners agree with the rationale behind the idea.
If your dog has a habit of bringing you gifts from the park, for example, the last thing you want is them dropping a discarded glove or mask at your feet. In addition to this, dog owners are being advised to prevent anyone else from petting their dogs due to the risk of human-to-human COVID-19 transmission. If your pup is likely to bound over to everyone they see, this could be tricky to enforce, so keeping them on a lead may be your best bet.
Of course, keeping your dog on a lead means they’re less likely to get overexcited too. If they’re getting less exercise than average and are suddenly allowed to run free, it could increase the risk of muscle sprains and strains, so keeping them on lead could help to prevent unnecessary injuries and vet trips.
5. Focus on mental stimulation
Keeping your dog mentally stimulated is always a good idea but it’s absolutely essential during lockdown. As well as preventing boredom, games which make your dog really think will help to tire them out and prevent any stress or anxiety they may be experiencing due to their new routine.
Teach your dogs some new tricks, let them figure out some puzzle toys or hide treats around the house for them and you can keep your dog entertained all day.
Make the Most of Time with Your Dog
If you’re spending a lot more time at home than normal, chances are your dog is thrilled to have the extra company. Having a pet is a great form of companionship at any time and your furry friend is sure to keep boredom at bay while normal life is on hold. With a few adjustments to their routine, you can ensure that lockdown doesn’t negatively impact your dog’s emotional or physical wellbeing.