Normalcy during a pandemic is not easy. Struggling to find all the supplies needed to keep your family healthy, clean, and fed at home is quite the challenge—not to mention the additional stress from job lay-offs, school closings, and sick friends and family. We understand that coping with the COVID-19 crisis is a juggling act, so we wanted to help make life a bit easier when it comes to caring for your furry family member. Your pet is likely confused and out-of-sorts as well during this time, so here are a few tips to help keep her safe, healthy, and happy at home. 

#1: Keep your pet stocked with supplies

You may have already had difficulty finding your pet’s favorite food, since everyone is stockpiling necessities. Although discovering the last bag of your pet’s regular food can be quite the quest, try to avoid switching foods abruptly, as a rapid change can upset your pet’s gastrointestinal system, and cause diarrhea. Allow at least a week of leeway when reordering your pet’s diminishing supplies, to ensure her normal items are in stock, or can be shipped in time, because major manufacturing companies and online marketplaces are experiencing limited supplies and shipping delays. While you’re socially isolating yourself at home, you can save yourself another trip into town by using our online pharmacy for your pet’s prescriptions. The same rule applies—allow ample time for shipping, to ensure your pet’s medications reach you before she runs out. 

#2: Create a first aid kit for accidents and injuries

Although medical gear is in short supply, you should have a home first aid kit packed with most essentials, for humans and pets. Ensure you have separate thermometers for your family and your pet, and include a muzzle in case of a pet’s painful injury. Your first aid kit should be stocked with bandage materials, 3% hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal, antibiotic ointment, sterile saline, and large syringes without needles for flushing wounds. Of course, the goal is to avoid injuries and illness, especially during a pandemic, but accidents happen. Common emergencies you may experience while quarantined at home with the entire family include:

  • Toxic foods — Snack foods toxic to pets, such as raw pizza dough, grapes, raisins, chocolate, macadamia nuts, and xylitol-sweetened treats
  • Home hazards — Home-improvement hazards, including power tools, paint, disinfectants, cleaning products, and lawn and garden chemicals
  • Craft dangers — Arts, crafts, and entertainment threats, such as small toys, popsicle sticks, glue, kinetic sand, fuzzy pipe cleaners, and string or yarn

Ensure your pet stays safe by monitoring potentially hazardous situations, keeping your first aid kit stocked, and brushing up on first aid care

#3: Monitor your pet for signs of stress and anxiety

Your stress levels may be through the roof right now, and your pet will pick up on your stress and anxiety, and also become agitated and nervous. With anxiety can come problem behaviors, such as excessive vocalization, furniture destruction, or inappropriate elimination. Cats, in particular, are prone to litter box issues when stressed, so watch for behavior changes in your furry friend, as you all adjust to the new normal. Providing plenty of mental and physical enrichment, while sticking to a normal routine, will help your pet cope, and reduce her stress. 

#4: Develop a mental and physical enrichment plan for your pet

Keeping your pet occupied through physically and mentally demanding activities will help reduce both her stress and yours. Here are a few examples of fun games:

  • Puzzles — Use a food puzzle for your pet’s daily meals, such as a stuffed Kong, commercial product, or homemade puzzle. There are a ton of ideas on Pinterest and other websites, to help you create your own food puzzle. 
  • Hide-and-seek — Hide your pet’s favorite treats around the house, or in the backyard, and watch her sniff them out. 
  • Talent show — Engage the entire family in a trick competition. See who can teach your pet the most astounding trick during your four-legged talent show.

Although you may not be able to visit your pooch’s pet store, dog park, or walking path right now, that is no excuse for becoming a couch potato. You can keep your pet active in a variety of ways, such as creating an indoor agility course, or hitting a hidden, rarely traveled trail.

#5: Use our hospital’s curbside service for urgent pet care

Despite all the love and care you give your best friend, she may still fall ill or become injured. The Billings Animal Family Hospital team is available to provide veterinary care for your pet in an urgent situation, although we are asking that you reschedule nonessential services, such as nail trims and routine wellness visits. For all sick or injured pets, we are offering curbside service to maintain social distancing practices, and to do our part in keeping our community healthy and safe. 

Billings Animal Family Hospital is here for you and your pet in the midst of this pandemic. If your pet requires urgent veterinary care, call us.