Living with your pet through COVID-19

Behaviour veterinarian, Dr Isabelle Resch writes about the behavioural aspects in our pets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting our lives and routines, and this can also have effects on our pets. Some of these effects may be good, as they get to spend more time with us, and some not so good. To try and minimise the effects of these disruptions, here are some suggestions to help your pets cope better.

  • Keep your pet’s daily life as routine as possible
  • Continue the regular walking routine but remember to maintain social distancing. Be careful not to overdo the exercise as we become a little stir crazy – older pets or those with arthritis may not enjoy 3-4 daily walks.
  • You can also exercise your dog without leaving the house such as soccer games, ball chasing, hide and seek, playing fetch or toy chasing games.
  • Don’t forget to give your pet some down time – most pets are not used to having us at home as much especially with our children. They usually sleep for many hours during the day. They need a break from us too! Provide a special bed and area that is a place that they are resting and make a rule that when there, they must be left alone.
  • Working at home can also be difficult with your pets, as they may be seeking more attention. Puzzle toys, food stuffed Kongs, rawhide chews and similar items can help keep them entertained.
  • The websites Pets need a Life Too, Manneke’s Toys (handmade enrichment toys, made in Canberra), and Pet Circle are sites worth visiting. You can also google environmental enrichment – there are many very easy and cheap home-made options for food and toy enrichment.
  • If your pet is on regular medications, particularly behavioural medications, these should be continued as normal and not be stopped during this time. Plan in advance to ensure you have an adequate supply. Many behavioural medications can be scripted and picked up from your local pharmacy.
  • Enjoy this time with your pets – they can be a great friend to help through these tough and unprecedented times.

Dr Isabelle Resch has pursued further studies and gained memberships from the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in behaviour medicine. Behaviour medicine is a rapidly expanding field. Using kind behaviour modification techniques, environmental changes and sometimes medication she helps your pet become the happiest they can be! Dr Isabelle is able to perform some behaviour consultations using Skype, so even in these contactless times, help is not far away.

If you are concerned about any aspects of your pet’s health, please give us a call.