Lockdown: some handy advice when it comes to your pets

Life has radically changed in South Africa with the sudden enforcement of lockdown due to a coronavirus Covid 19. We are all home a lot more than usual. And it’s no holiday, because during holiday time we are allowed to be out and about, tackle tasks we have wanted to do all year, go for long walks and socialise. This is something we have never experienced before and is mentally very challenging.

But the good news is that most little furry souls are ecstatic to have you home all day! Your furfamily in fact, could not be happier. Life couldn’t get any better for them, having everyone there all the time, except that they of course do not understand why no-one is taking them for walks!

SO with all this extra home time shared with your pet, there are a few simple things to bear in mind.

1.) Resist the temptation to feed those hungry puppy dog eyes, remember no pet is EVER full of treats. Limit the number of treats per day especially since there will be no walks.

2.) Do not feed your pet, human food. One wants to avoid things like constipation, diarrhoea and vomiting. Please stay especially clear of fatty foods as this can cause a life-threatening disease called pancreatitis. Should your dog or cat get diarrhoea but seem otherwise healthy something like Diomec.

3.) It is very important to try and stick to your pets normal feeding schedule and consider reducing the amount of food fed per meal if your dog’s exercise is limited.

4.) Beware of suddenly giving your dog too many chewy things (hooves for example) to keep them out of your hair. Some dogs will keep chewing for hours and hours and it is possible that they actually get very painful cheek muscles and jaws from this. Always remember when you introduce something new to chew, limit the initial contact time and increase it slowly over a few days.

5.) Don’t forget to keep your pets parasite free during this time to prevent any itchiness or disease.

6.) Be aware of dogs that are itchy or bored. They can start licking their paws and a small itch can become a big problem. If you see your dog focussing in on one area of the body and constantly licking take action quickly to prevent self-mutilation. One can use shampoos to bath the area. Apply over the counter ointments like Ricky Litchfield anti-inflammatory gel topically to the skin. And one can also use physical barriers like a sock to the dog’s foot or t-shirt to its body to limit skin damage. Remember these are not long term solutions but rather immediate ideas during the lockdown. Introduce more toys to keep your pet occupied for longer, but slowly as mentioned above.

7.) If you know you have a chronically itchy dog, contact your vet for advice as it might be worth your while having a back-up plan at home, should a skin flare-up occur. Remember bathing itchy dog’s often, with the correct shampoo might be all you need to keep their skin under control. Imagine your dog’s skin like a floor mat and all the things that make them itch attach in between the hair, thus bathing them will dilute out these things such as house dust mite, pollen and grass.

8.) Remember that skin disease also includes dog’s ears. Unfortunately, ears often get inflamed and infected when the skin flares up. Again, it might be worth your while having a home back-up plan for dogs that flare-up regularly such as weekly ear cleaner and whatever other maintenance plan your vet suggests for flare-ups.

9.) Most of the anxious dogs should actually do a bit better with the whole family at home, but if you are really struggling with your pet it might be worth trying some nutriceuticals such as CalmEze or other similar tryptophan based products to help your pet stay calm during the lockdown.

10.) Toys will be a great help during this time, but remember that pets can get bored with the same toy everyday. Thus try and rotate the toys to make them seem like a new toy every week.

11.) It is also a good idea to keep your pet active during this time. One way to do this is by attaching a toy to a rope and then attaching the rope to a stick. Sit your dog/cat down, dangle the toy in front of them and then after a few seconds allowing them to chase the toy. This will allow some excitement and exercise in a smaller confined space.

12.) On the other hand don’t over-exercise your pet, just because you are home. Beware of suddenly starting activities, like throwing frisbees, to pets that are not used to such high impact games. The last thing you and your pet needs at this time is an orthopaedic emergency.

13.) Remember that during lockdown good communication is going to be key. Your vet will be more than happy to give advice during this very testing time. Everyone is trying to make this lockdown as successful as possible and avoiding the vet is just another way of doing your bit. This does not mean that you should ignore a problem should one occur, it just means that you will need to become resourceful and good at deciding what is an emergency and needs urgent treatment and what can wait.



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