How To Keep Your Dogs Sane and Safe During COVID-19

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Odds are, you and your family members are a lot closer than you ever have been. That includes your furry family members. While the extra togetherness time is a bit of a gift in rough wrapping, you may be wondering how to stay sane (and safe) with everybody cooped up together!

With COVID-19 warranting quarantines, shelter-in-place orders and the shutdown of most schools across the United States for at least the next couple of weeks, you and your family are probably spending a good bit of time together.

We’re talking a LOT, actually. You may be teleworking and trying to keep the kids up to date on their studies and you at home with your dogs means they’re ALL about playtime.

And of course, initially, you’re all about it too. But let’s be real…too much of a ‘good’ thing can still be too much.

So what can you do to make sure that you and your family members, furry included, stay both safe AND sane while the Coronavirus chaos ensues?

We’re glad you asked!

1. GET OUTSIDE. Yes, get outside. Just stay away from people when you’re doing it. The CDC and World Health Organization strongly recommend getting outside, getting fresh air and enjoying the Vitamin D the sunshine brings. It’s already been a warm winter, and with spring about to start? No better time than to start that exercise routine you’ve been thinking about or that extra training you were hoping to do with your dog when you had a bit more time. Take walks, go on runs, find trails untrodden. Just make sure that your kids stay off playground equipment (as the virus can live on plastic playground equipment for 2-3 days, researchers believe). And, because we know the paws of our pups are not the cleanest of clean anyway, it’s not a bad idea for them to wear slippers either. A couple of our favorites are Pawz Rubber Dog Boots in multiples or Poochy Pawz for more of a designer look!

Related: 9 Fresh Ways to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Clean

2. Practice BETTER hygiene. According to the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, the disease is spread to humans through person-to-person contact. NO reports of pets or livestock becoming ill or spreading the virus in the U.S. exist, and the CDC says there should be no concern of the virus transmitting to or from your dog. Still, in this time of a highly contagious virus shutting the world down, even MORE vigilance in your hygiene routine is wise.

  • Wash your hands with SOAP and water, for AT LEAST 20 seconds, and do so often.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Do your best not to touch your face.
  • Be sure your pets have been vaccinated for all other potential diseases as your veterinarian recommends.
  • If you or someone you are close to contracts COVID-19, limit your contact with your pets just as you would for your human family members.
  • The CDC recommends you avoid snuggling, being kissed or licked by or sharing food with your pet, and if you do, wash your hands thoroughly before and after you interact with your pets.

Again, there’s no evidence to believe that pets can spread the virus, but it’s never bad to be safe.

3. Ease Anxiety By Preparing. If you’re like most, sometimes just having a plan takes a lot of anxiety off your plate. That’s why the ASPCA recommends having an Emergency Kit, say in case you should get sick even. They advise you to have a 30-day supply of your pets’ medications. They also advise a two-week supply of food and other needed items like kitty litter or bedding shred. Make sure your pets’ tags are updated and they’re chipped. Designate someone who’ll watch your pets if you get sick. While health experts are claiming that most only experience mild symptoms and recover well, you may need some help and having that already figured out may make it easier to enjoy this extra together time.

4. PLAY! You know how your pet always looks at you longingly while you’re catching up on emails? We know that telework is possibly going to be a new way to work for you but look at the silver lining. Your ‘breaks’ now mean you and Fido have time to play, and you’d be SHOCKED at what taking more time to play and interact with your pets can do for mental health. Let’s be honest here; we’re all a little uncertain, and research shows again and again how our pets can improve our moods and lessen our depression.

Related: 5 Benefits of Playing with Your Dog

5. Keep a schedule. There’s a reason your dog sits at the front door at 5:55 pm and sits by her bowl at 6:15 am and pm every day. Dogs love schedules and they have incredible internal clocks. Guess what? When you’re all stuck together for several weeks, a schedule is key, and you’ll all feel better for it. With this ‘new normal’ scheduling, be sure to include breaks to walk, move around, get some water and fresh air. Your dog will love the new daily company, and honestly, you will appreciate it too!

6. Keep a sense of humor. Let’s face it. When in your lifetime did you ever see yourself having pets and/or kids as your ‘work-from-home’ colleagues? Sure, you’re the boss, but take it easy on all of you. This is a different time than any we’ve ever seen, and a sense of gratitude for the good and laughter can really do incredible things. It can even help boost your immune system, so there’s another reason to stay on the light side. Besides, even though you may be working from home, a Xanax/rum mix is still probably not a good idea for productivity, but laughter is medicine for the soul.

Hang in there! We’re all in this together, paws included!

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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