Covid-19 and pets

It is uncertain times for all at the moment, but for those of us with pets we also have the additional concern of making sure we are still able to give them the care they need.

We wanted to give you a quick service update and reassure you that we are still here to help you and your pets at this difficult time. We have also teamed up with the veterinary experts at Joii to put together some handy tips to make life inside that little bit less stressful and more fun for all.

Dog and a first aid kit

Top 5 to-dos

  1. Stay calm. So far studies show that pets don't transmit the COVID-19 virus to humans.
  2. Be prepared. Try to have at least two weeks of pet food and any medications in stock. You may be able to order these online with a prescription if you cannot get to a vets.
  3. Wash your hands before and after touching your pet and apply good hygiene measures.
  4. Reduce your pet's food accordingly if their exercise has been reduced by self-isolation.
  5. Follow the above advice or speak to a veterinary professional if you have any questions or concerns about your pet and cannot leave your house.

Pets and your mental health

The human-animal bond is a powerful thing and pets can have a massive positive effect on our mental health. Pets can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness.

Spending time with your dog or cat can reduce blood pressure, slow your heart rate, regulate your breathing and relax tense muscles. It also results in an increase in oxytocin - more commonly known as the 'love hormone'.

We realise that those pet owners who are self-isolating have been advised to minimise contact with their pets but even in these uncertain times, our pets can be a great source of company and comfort. Whether you're working from the office or at home, and regardless of your toilet paper supply, your pets will love you unconditionally.

Photo illustration of a cat  and a dog with love hearts

Exercising and self isolation with a cat

There is no need to prevent cats from going outside during this time. If you do need to keep them in for any reason, provide lots of enrichment so they can perform their natural behaviours in the form of things to climb, chase, pounce and a window to look out of.

Also, make sure they have access to a litter tray in a quiet area of the house. Feed them after playtime to mimic their natural instincts.

Make sure cats have enough attention and time with you during this time, it has been proven that they need human contact to be emotionally sound.

  • Give your pet long-lasting treats and use stuffable toys to keep them occupied during the day. Feeding puzzles can also be a great way to keep your pet entertained during meal times, by hiding a few of their favourite treats or kibble in them.
  • Make toys for your dog from toilet roll inners and old clothing. You could make various things from tugs toys to scent mats for your pooch to enjoy.
  • training is important and can help to keep your pet occupied and help to tire them out, so try to put aside a few minutes each day for a training session with your pet.
  • Scent work (allowing them to sniff around) really engages the brain, so any games that involve hiding treats and allowing your pooch to find them will be a winner to keep them occupied.
  • Hide and seek games. Whether using treats or toys, hiding them in places and encouraging your dog to find them will keep their brain and nose active as well as their bodies.
  • Make sure pets have enough attention and time with you during this time, it is proven that they need human contact to be emotionally sound.
  • Play time is golden. Use extra time at home to have structured play sessions with your dog. Play increases the bond and provides fun and stimulation.
  • Spotify has recently launched 'My Dog's Favourite Podcast' which has a range of carefully selected spoken word, sound and original music designed to encourage relaxation.
  • You shouldn't stop walks altogether but instead walk at quieter places and keep your distance from other people. This may mean keeping your dog on a lead if they do not have a reliable recall to prevent you having to retrieve them.

What to do if your dog's food is running low.

It is important to minimise any sudden changes to our pets' diets. Especially if they have underlying health conditions or are on veterinary diets. If this is the case please ensure you seek veterinary advice before making any changes.

Tops tips if needs must:

  • Try to put together a balanced diet. For example, cooked chicken (skinless and boneless), rice, carrots.
  • For a balanced diet try to:
    • Avoid excess sodium and fat (can upset tummy)
    • Try to reach a good balance of lean protein (chicken, turkey, white fish)
    • Include a complex carbohydrate (white/brown rice or pasta, sweet potatoes)
  • If you have to prepare food yourself, try to use ingredients that your pet has already eaten and that did not cause any stomach upset.
  • Keep in mind that some human food can be toxic to dogs: raisins, grapes, avocados, garlic, onions, some nuts, any human cakes/biscuits containing xylitol, chocolate...
  • As your pet might exercise less due to isolation, try to use slow feeding bowls, food puzzles or food dispensing toys as this creates more exercise/activity to ingest food. Eating more slowly = better digestion.
  • Due to less exercise, try to stick to healthy treats i.e. a piece of raw carrot or apple.
  • Reduce exercise can mean weight gain. Keeping weight gain to a minimum is very important for pets, we have provided to keeping them moving below.

What to do if your cat's food is running low.

It is important to minimise any sudden changes to our pets' diets. Especially if they have underlying health conditions or are on veterinary diets. If this is the case please ensure you seek veterinary advice before making any changes.

Tops tips if needs must:

  • Try to put together a balanced diet. For example, cooked chicken (skinless and boneless), rice, carrots.
  • For a balanced diet try to:
    • Avoid excess sodium and fat (can upset tummy)
    • Try to reach a good balance of lean protein (chicken, turkey, white fish)
    • Include a complex carbohydrate (white/brown rice or pasta, sweet potatoes)
  • If you have to prepare food yourself, try to use ingredients that your pet has already eaten and that did not cause any stomach upset.
  • It is very important to note that if you have to prepare your own food for a cat, cats have very special dietary requirements. They require taurine - an essential amino acid to live and function. Taurine is found in ready-made pet foods and careful consideration will be needed to make a suitable home diet for a cat. Please seek advice from a vet/nurse if you are unsure.

Exercising and self isolation with a dog

Brain stimulation is just as important and may tire your furry friend out as much as physical exercise. Here are some ideas that can keep your pet occupied whilst they are indoors:

  • Give your pet long-lasting treats and use stuffable toys to keep them occupied during the day. Feeding puzzles can also be a great way to keep your pet entertained during meal times, by hiding a few of their favourite treats or kibble in them.
  • Make toys for your dog from toilet roll inners and old clothing. You could make various things from tugs toys to scent mats for your pooch to enjoy.
  • training is important and can help to keep your pet occupied and help to tire them out, so try to put aside a few minutes each day for a training session with your pet.
  • Scent work (allowing them to sniff around) really engages the brain, so any games that involve hiding treats and allowing your pooch to find them will be a winner to keep them occupied.
  • Hide and seek games. Whether using treats or toys, hiding them in places and encouraging your dog to find them will keep their brain and nose active as well as their bodies.
  • Make sure pets have enough attention and time with you during this time, it is proven that they need human contact to be emotionally sound.
  • Play time is golden. Use extra time at home to have structured play sessions with your dog. Play increases the bond and provides fun and stimulation.
  • Spotify has recently launched 'My Dog's Favourite Podcast' which has a range of carefully selected spoken word, sound and original music designed to encourage relaxation.
  • You shouldn't stop walks altogether but instead walk at quieter places and keep your distance from other people. This may mean keeping your dog on a lead if they do not have a reliable recall to prevent you having to retrieve them.

Exercising and self isolation with a cat

There is no need to prevent cats from going outside during this time. If you do need to keep them in for any reason, provide lots of enrichment so they can perform their natural behaviours in the form of things to climb, chase, pounce and a window to look out of.

Also, make sure they have access to a litter tray in a quiet area of the house. Feed them after playtime to mimic their natural instincts.

Make sure cats have enough attention and time with you during this time, it has been proven that they need human contact to be emotionally sound.

A person holding a cat