How to Practice Social Distancing & Keep Pets Active
As people around the world cope with COVID-19 and its profound changes to the way we live, pets provide welcome relief and comfort to the social isolation and stress caused by the novel coronavirus.
Mars Associates remain committed to caring for the pets we serve during this difficult time through the pet food and the veterinary services we provide. As we observe the social distancing practices and policies that have been put in place for everyone’s safety, Waltham Petcare Science Institute offers some tips for fun and safe pet activities. As we like to think about things to do on a rainy day, these will help to keep you and your pets active and engaged while doing your part to help flatten the curve.
Pet activities for all pets
- Closely monitor food portions and be careful not to overfeed or give too many treats.
- Choose playtime carefully: The best time for play is often when cats and dogs are well rested and eager for human attention.
- Give lots of praise and encouragement.
- Encourage appropriate play. Avoid scratching or nipping and stop play immediately if pets behave badly.
- Have fun, but avoid over excitement or chasing, particularly when children are around.
- Keep play at ground level to avoid jumping up.
Activities to do with dogs
- When you can’t leave the house to walk the dog, set up simple obstacle courses if there’s room and it’s safe to do so.
- Play hide and seek. Tell your dog to sit while you go and hide, call out and watch them search high and low for you.
- Work on obedience training and teach your dogs some new tricks. This keeps them physically active and mentally engaged.
- Keeping them active is part of being a responsible pet owner, and here is a good guide for new and more seasoned owners alike.
Things to do with cats
- Use 20- to 30-second blocks of time, perhaps during commercial breaks when you’re watching TV, to play a quick game. Making such activities part of everyday life is the best way to create a new routine.
- Activity feeders such as balls, mazes and towers are great ways to keep cats active around feeding time, and they help slow food consumption. Just make sure the food is visible, so they don’t get discouraged and give up.
Read Dr. Jo Gale's blog for even more tips to keep your cat active and in shape.
How the human-animal bond can benefit both people and pets
Pets can help us cope with stress and anxiety as we navigate these unprecedented times. Here are several research findings indicating how pet interaction could benefit our mental health.
- Having a pet may be linked to better overall heart health.
- Dogs' oxytocin levels (the "happy" hormone) increase when they are interacting with people.
- Older homebound adults who own cats or dogs have been shown to be better at paying attention, remembering details and learning from past experiences than those who don’t own pets.
- Dogs help children deal with stress, be more self-confident and understand responsibility: When kids help walk, bathe and feed the dog, they learn how to take care of another living creature.
For more information, visit:
- World Small Animal Veterinary Association: Coronavirus and Companion Animals Advice
- World Organization for Animal Health: Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Mars Petcare’s Waltham brings Pet Health Pal, a new educational resource powered by Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to answer top questions and bust myths related to pet health and ownership curing this unprecedented time.