As we continue to experience the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many pet owners have been asking how the virus affects their dogs. We explored the relationship between the coronavirus and dogs in our previous blog. Fortunately, it is highly unlikely that your four-legged friend will contract the virus. That being said, keeping your dog healthy and free of anxiety may be a bit more challenging under a mandated quarantine.
Below are some helpful tips to maintain your dog’s overall health and happiness.
Stock up! Food and other vital necessities continue to fly off grocery store shelves across the country. Since it’s best to stay indoors and limit your interactions with others as much as possible, it’s advisable to have a month’s worth of food for your dog.
The essential nutrients for dogs include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It’s important that your dog has a steady intake of these six essential nutrients in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Another important component of a healthy diet is the amount of food your dog consumes. A dog’s diet can be based on many factors including activity level, age, and size.You should speak with your veterinarian to determine an ideal diet. Consistent feeding times, portion control and nutritional value should always be considered when determining diet.
Depending on where you live and your local laws regarding quarantine, you and your dog may have limited access to parks and other public recreation areas. Remember to adapt your dog’s food intake based on the amount of exercise he or she is getting.
So how much exercise should your dog get? While that depends on many factors, age and breed play an important role. High-energy breeds, such as Jack Russell Terriers, typically require significantly more exercise than low-energy Basset Hounds. Keep in mind that an older dog doesn’t require the same amount of exercise as a younger dog or puppy. Just like humans, dogs tend to slow down a bit as they age. If you’re unsure of how much exercise your dog requires, always consult with your veterinarian. Start with a walk around your neighborhood to see how your dog reacts, and remember to be mindful of the weather. Heavy panting could be indicative that your dog is overheated.
As mentioned before, there may be limited access to public parks and recreation areas. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of indoor activities you and your dog can partake in to get some much needed exercise and stimulation. Here are some indoor activities you and your dog can try while under quarantine or while practicing social distancing.
- Sniff & Seek: Try placing treats throughout different areas of the house and set your dog on a sniffing adventure. The physical and mental exercise is a great way to keep your dog sharp and the family entertained.
- Tug of War: A tried and true method to tire out any dog and their owner. Whether it’s an old sock or a rope, this classic game is a favorite among dogs and will surely provide a healthy work out.
- Hall Ball: This is exactly what it sounds like. Toss a tennis ball down the hallway and watch your dog race after it. This can keep you both entertained for as long as you want while making sure there’s plenty of exercise for your canine.
- StairMaster: For those who have a flight of stairs in the home, rolling the ball up and down is the stairmaster version for your dog. Work out any anxieties or stressors by stimulating those muscles and keeping your dog’s mind occupied.
Vaccinations and Medications
You should always consult with your veterinarian regarding vaccines for your dog. Regularly scheduled vaccinations will keep your dog healthy and safe from any potential illnesses. Common vaccines to ask your veterinarian about are those given for distemper, rabies, canine hepatitis, and canine parvovirus. Non-core vaccines may be given at the veterinarian’s discretion and are based on risk of exposure.
During this time of quarantine, daily tasks and requirements may become more challenging. You may have friends and family staying with you at your home. Or you may be staying at someone else’s home or a shelter. All of these scenarios can have an impact on your pets. A new environment may be perceived as intimidating or even threatening to a dog. Additional family and friends in close proximity can also have an affect on your dog.
Alternatively, separation anxiety in your canine could develop if you are required to be away for long periods of time. If you believe your dog is prone to aggressive behavior, is easily irritated or frightened, or generally inclined to anxiety, speak to your veterinarian. While exercise and cognitive stimulation is important, it may not be enough. Anti-anxiety medications such as clomipramine hydrochloride can be very helpful in reducing the clinical signs associated with separation anxiety in dogs such as destructive chewing.
Grooming and Hygiene
In addition to a healthy diet, good exercise and having the proper vaccinations, grooming and hygiene are essential components of a healthy dog. Specific grooming habits such as brushing your dog’s hair may vary depending upon the breed. However, nail trimming and teeth brushing are an essential part of regular care, regardless of your dog’s breed. It’s also encouraged to look for ticks and fleas during a grooming session with your dog. The faster a tick or flea is removed, the better – especially if you’re under quarantine. Another common place to check is your dog’s ears. Remember to inspect your dog’s ear canal as well. If you notice a strong odor, redness or swelling, it may be a sign of infection. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, or have questions, always consult with your veterinarian.
Grooming and hygiene maintenance are good ways for you and your dog to bond while instilling a sense of safety and protection. Under the current uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantines, it’s helpful to maintain consistent tasks and habits. If you feel your dog is displaying signs of anxiety, be sure to consult your veterinarian. You can also take a look at the five most common signs of canine anxiety and what you can do to help by clicking here.
Moreover, you can take a look below at the common signs and symptoms of a dog who may be ill and in need of attention from a veterinarian:
- Loss of appetite for a day or more
- Weight loss
- Excessive drinking of water
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive panting
- Runny nose and watery eyes
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive urination
- Whining for no obvious reason
- Shivering and shaking
- Repetitive scratching at eyes or ears
- Unusual lack of activity
- White gums