If you’re self-isolating during the coronavirus outbreak, you might be wondering how you can keep your animal companions safe and happy during this stressful time. There have been a few reported cases of cats and dogs testing positive for the virus after coming into close contact with humans who have the disease, and they may be able to transmit the virus to you from others. This is why social distancing must include your animal companions, too. On the positive side, this can be a great opportunity for some high-quality cuddle time with your dog or cat.
How to Prepare for Self-Quarantine
Your employer may have implemented work-from-home policies to help mitigate the spread of disease, or you might be feeling sick and not sure if you have a common cold, the flu, or COVID-19. It’s best not to take chances, which is why it’s smart to have extra supplies on hand if you’re unable to leave your home. Stock up on two weeks’ worth of these supplies for animal companions:
If you have an animal companion—such as a guinea pig, a gerbil, a hamster, or a rabbit—who eats fresh vegetables, be sure to have enough fresh produce available for them. And if you want to avoid going to the grocery store, fresh produce can be ordered for delivery or picked up through community-supported agriculture programs. As long as you don’t use any fertilizers or herbicides anywhere near your yard, you can forage there for edible wild greens and weeds that these animals can eat. These include dandelions; chamomiles; London rockets; Bermuda, fescue, rye, crabgrass, and centipede grass; mustard greens; mallows; plantains; cleavers; chickweed; clover (in moderation); and mulberry fruit, bark, and leaves.
If you can buy a little extra, consider calling your local shelter or food bank to make a donation.
Is It Safe to Walk Your Dog?
You can still let dogs out into a safely enclosed backyard to relieve themselves and run around, and if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of the disease, you can still take them on walks, while making sure to follow social-distancing guidelines. Keep your dog on a leash, and stay 6 feet away from other humans and animals outside the household. It’s also a good idea (and a requirement in some areas) to wear a mask. However, you should never put a facemask on animals, as they can experience breathing difficulties.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, it’s crucial that you stay indoors and away from others. Have another member of your household or a neighbor help you by taking your dog for a walk. People who have contracted the disease should avoid close contact with animals as much as possible, since they can possibly become infected and the virus can be left on their fur.
Don’t forget to keep your dog safe, too! Walk Your Dog With Love makes comfortable dog harnesses, and 50% of proceeds go to PETA, while PETA Business Friend CoyoteVest makes harnesses to keep your dog safe from birds of prey, big cats, and aggressive dogs.
Cats should never be let outdoors unsupervised, but you can use the same social-distancing guidelines to take your cat for a walk safely with a leash attached to a harness. Alternatively, use your free time in quarantine to build a catio!
Keeping Them Entertained
While your outdoor activities might be more limited, there are still a lot of fun ways to help your dog (and cat) get some exercise indoors. You probably already have plenty of great toys for your animal companion, but you should also have some challenging puzzle toys that are great for mental stimulation. One of our favorites is a snuffle mat, which can help your dog or cat use their sniffing instincts to find food or treats. Here are some other fun, feather-free toys:
Move over, basic Frisbee! There’s a new, nautical toy in town.
KONG Classic Dog Toy
Stuff this toy with treats or peanut butter.
This is a toy for young dogs that helps slow down their eating and gives them mental stimulation.
Drop in your cat’s favorite treats, kibble, or toy and watch them navigate this cardboard maze.
Your cat will love this three-tiered tower with ball toys.
Self-Care With Cuddles
One of the best ways to manage anxiety during these stressful times is to cuddle up with your animal companion. So grab some vegan snacks, put on your favorite movie or grab your favorite book, and curl up on the couch with your dog or cat.
Always practice an abundance of caution, particularly if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. The best way to protect others and help slow the spread of disease is through self-quarantine. Be sure to contact your doctor if you aren’t feeling well, and always be sure to have an emergency contact on file so that someone can take care of your animal companions if you’re unable to.
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