If there’s a silver lining to everything that’s happening right now, it’s that we’re able to spend more time than ever with our pets. It’s rekindled our literal puppy love, encouraged more pet fostering, and finally answered the burning question both you and your pet have been wondering all these years: what in good graces are they up to all day? There’s even a new Instagram account, @dogsworkingfromhome, that’s sharing pet colleagues from around the world, you know, in case smiling is something you’re into.
Animals are a guaranteed source of comfort on any day, but especially now that we’re navigating the extremes of ceaseless boredom and crippling anxiety. But taking care of a pet right now isn’t exactly a walk in the park (because the park is covered in germs), and there are some things that pet owners should be aware of—including what you may want to buy for your furry bunker-buddies now that quarantine is widespread. So, we reached out to some veterinarians to find out everything pet parents should know about keeping their little ones happy and healthy while social distancing is the soup du jour, and the Netflix binge never seems to end.
Are pets safe from the coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization, there’s no indication that cats, dogs, or any other pet can transmit the virus to humans. Jennifer Freeman, DVM and PetSmart resident veterinarian, adds that while pets don’t appear to become ill, it’s important to limit contact between pets and people with the coronavirus as an extra precaution. “You can interact with your pets as usual if you are not showing signs of illness, but be sure to wash your hands before and after handling your pet or feeding them. And no kisses!” If you are showing signs of illness, the CDC recommends that you isolate yourself from your pet and that someone else in the household feeds and cares for them.
What should I do when taking them outside?
“Remember to be smart and keep your distance between other pets and their parents,” says Dr. Stephanie Austin, BVMS of Bond Vet, an urgent and primary care pet clinic. “You may use antiseptic wipes on their paws after a walk, but be careful not to overdo it, as it can be very drying. Ideally, wipes formulated for pets are best, or even just some warm water and a rag!” And for those who feel that it is an absolute necessity to take your dog to the dog park, Austin reminds everyone to “please be respectful of other pet owners’ boundaries and keep six feet between you and them.” That includes holding back on petting every dog you see. (Cries softly.)
How to take care of pets during social distancing
Like actual children, routines are important to help them stay sane. “With so many things changing, routines should remain as unchanged as possible.” Freeman says to “keep feeding times consistent and–if your pet is used to certain activities throughout the day–keep them at the same time.”
What if my pet gets stressed or sick?
“Pets may be susceptible to stress when stuck indoors for an extended period of time. It’s important to keep an eye on them should they start exhibiting destructive behavior and/or anxious behavior,” Freeman tells us. “Should that happen, increasing enriching activities and playtime should help.” If there’s a medical issue, like vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, bleeding, coughing, and sneezing, Austin says to call your vet so you can get to the bottom of the issue.
“If you can’t leave home or you’re quarantined due to coronavirus contraction, you can try a telehealth service. Bond Vet just launched theirs so they could reach more pets in need of veterinary care,” she adds. “We also suggest extra cuddles to help lower their anxiety—and yours!”
How do I keep them entertained at home?
Some of us live in a shoebox apartment in Brooklyn (hi, it’s me) and are trying to wrack our brains with ways to make 500 square feet amenable to a dog. Austin says it’s just as important to keep your pets mentally stimulated as physical. “Keep your pets entertained while at home with dog puzzles, treat-dispensing toys, and smart bowls (which require pets to figure out the solution to get their treat/food). There are also dog and cat music and TV channels on YouTube if you have to work and want to keep them entertained.”
Are pet stores open?
Pet stores (including your local one) are considered an essential business, so most stores have remained open, though some only offer curbside pick-up right now. Owners can stock up on supplies from the usuals like Amazon, Chewy, Petsmart, and Petco. For Chewy, orders over $50 qualify for free shipping; for PetSmart, orders over $49 qualify for free shipping when you join the brand’s free loyalty program; for Petco, orders $35 and up qualify for free shipping.
What pet supplies should I stock up on?
There’s no need to panic, but stocking up on necessary pet supplies means you won’t have to head to the store or veterinarian any more than you need to. Ahead, some recommendations from the experts.