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For pet parents, there is an upside to the quarantine situation. You no longer have to head out the door with a heavy heart, slinking guiltily away from sad puppy eyes. Now you have plenty of opportunity to cuddle your worries away in furry arms. Having said that, there are a couple of precautions that you need to take. Let’s make sure our furry friends have no trouble during this stressful time. Here’s a checklist that will help you keep track of the essentials.
1. The Basics
In case your pet’s vaccination is due now or in a couple of days, now is a good time to take them to your nearest vet. Make sure to call in advance and if possible, take an appointment for a time when there’s likely to be very few people in the clinic when you go. Do this as soon as possible, just in case clinics need to shut or if there’s a change in the current situation. Make sure that you have your dog license in place, to show as proof in case the police happen to ask. Fortunately, you can get this done online in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
And if you are a resident of Mumbai city, the month of April means you need to renew your dog license, and that means you’ll need up-to-date vaccine documents. So, get the clinic visit ticked off.
Next, make sure your basics will last a month or so. Things like your anti-tick and flea spray, deworming tablets, wet wipes, dog food, shampoo and if they are on medication, then that too. Consult your vet about keeping emergency medicines handy in case of any illness.
Another important thing you need to consider, is a backup plan for your pet. In case of a situation where you get infected and need complete isolation, think of a family member or a friend who could look after them in your absence. Of course, ask the person in advance to make sure they agree.
If you live in a house with a backyard, this may not be a big challenge. But in case you stay in an apartment, this is a problem area. We know how excited dogs get during walk time. It’s like they are heading for a party. However, in the current situation, take your dogs for shorter walks, just to do their business. Step out during an odd time when you’re unlikely to come across anyone and avoid trouble.
Walk your dog in the building compound, the terrace, or up and down the staircase outside your door. When you do this, coordinate with fellow pet parents in the building via phone or message and keep an eye out for other people, so that you don’t bump into anyone.
Don’t let anyone pet your dog and be careful of what your pup is sniffing or walking over on the road. Even though, currently, there is no evidence that pets can get infected or pass on the virus to humans as stated by the World Health Organisation in their communication, it is best to be careful. Don’t forget to carry a sanitizer along and use it right before you enter the house again. Once you are back, wash your pet’s paws and snout with soap water and pat dry. You could also use wet wipes. Or, wipe them down with a towel dipped in diluted disinfectant liquid once a day. Also consider washing their leash or keeping it outside the house when not in use.
Since their exercise has been compromised, it’s a good idea to feed them limited food. If you only feed your pet store bought food, give them a reduced portion size than usual. Make sure you have enough in stock to last for 2 months at least. Most of the shops are shut and it is a bad idea to ask someone to deliver at this point. However, most of the vets and chemists keep dry food in store and will be able to help you out. If you have cats, they will need fish or chicken, either the ready-made packets or bits of raw meat.
If you have dogs, who are okay with homemade food, why not experiment with it. Look up some fun recipes with pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, and meat with broth. If getting meat is a task, you can substitute it with high protein veg food, like soya chunks and lentils. When you substitute meat, your pet may refuse at first. Don’t be dejected, add a dash of coconut or fish oil to add taste and make it an interesting mix. It also helps with their skin. Reduce carbohydrates from their regular diet and you are good to go. Avoid anything that’s of harm to them, like onions or chocolates. If you have curious, playful puppies, make sure they don’t gobble harmful things around the house especially during this time.
With you being home all the time, your pet is going to ask for tons of attention. Even though it’s difficult, try not to interact with them all the time. Constantly being around may lead to separation anxiety in them, once you get back to routine. Plus, with reduced physical exertion, there’s nothing to tire them out. In such a situation, the best option is to mentally challenge them. Mental stimulation can be carried out with games that require your pet to think. For e.g., you can put a bunch of treats in a bottle with an open narrow lid and they will try to get those out. You can also hide treats under containers and see them try their best to flip it and sniff it out. This will keep them busy for hours. You can also turn meal time into training time. Make your pet perform all his tricks before getting his food as a reward. Another thing to do is to teach your furry companion new tricks. With so many tutorials on the web and lots of time in hand, it’s worth a try. It’s a great way to exercise their mind and you will have a new trick to show off the next time you meet your friends!
On any given day, and especially now, having a furry companion around is a blessing. While there is panic all around, they somehow calm the chaos for us, just for a bit. Here’s our chance to spend some, much deserved, quality time with them. On a side note, when you do step out for necessary errands, spare some food for the strays as well. With the restaurants shut down, they have limited resources to scavenge from. After all, a little kindness to any furry friend, brings you and them joy. And isn’t that exactly what we need right now?
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