In these extraordinary times we at the Gisborne Veterinary Clinic would like to reassure our clients that we are constantly evaluating and adjusting how we as a team can continue to care for and manage your pets healthcare during this crisis.
Remember that your dog and cat cannot transmit the SARS Type 2 virus unless their coat is considered a contact surface so just washing hands before and after interacting with your dog and cat will be enough.
Now the Government has implemented self-isolation us all to remain at home in and not leave our properties there are a few tips and hints that will make this time with your pet really special.
Your dog and cat will certainly appreciate the extra time you are at home and this is a perfect opportunity to think about their picture of the world.
Dogs in the wild are social, they spend a large amount of time hunting and foraging for food and they engage in play and sleep.
Cats are by nature more solitary, however enjoy and thrive with social interaction as well.
Your dog has a number of basic needs to be physically and mentally happy.
Environmental enrichment is the provision of activities which meet a dog’s needs for social, occupational “a job”, physical, sensory and nutritional needs.
When we provide an environmentally enriched life for our dogs, their stress levels and boredom reduces and they are less inclined to engage in behaviours like digging, excessive and persistent running up and down fence lines, barking excessively, escaping and other destructive behaviours.
This means if we pay attention to providing them with stimulation that meets their needs they will be better behaved.
Now that we are spending more time at home this is the perfect time to start!
Dogs thrive in the company of other dogs and their owners. They can be friends with other animal types too. This social interaction may involve play, training, grooming, patting and just being around. Walks are another great way to meet their social needs but unless this is on your property this will need to be delayed.
If your dog is on their own, then providing a raised platform so they can see over the fence or peep holes in the fence to look out can be helpful.
In the wild, dogs would spend a large part of the day hunting for food so we need to provide them with a “job”. This can be food puzzles, games, obedience training and toys to play with. Make sure toys are appropriate for your dog’s age and size, and rotate the favourites every few days. Some breeds like terriers are bred for digging so providing a clam shell with sand and hiding toys in there is fun. Obedience training is something we can do on a daily basis in short time bursts which dogs will love, particularly if there are treats used for correct behaviour. Remember it is far better to train with positive rewards as this works to your advantage with the way animals learn.
Dogs need exercise every day, even older dogs. This can be through playing fetch or tug of war, digging pits, small water pools for water loving breeds.
There is a toy for dogs you can hang from a tree via aussiedog.com.au called a Home Alone Toy. You can also use a frisbee or tunnel for play.
Dogs live life through their nose… try hiding food in the house or garden, scent games that lead to favourite toys and there are even some dog specific classical CD tracks that calm dogs. Remember to have the volume low and not have it on all day. Dogs prefer classical music generally.
Dogs need to eat, however making a game or task out of finding food is much more similar to what a dog does in the wild. You can sprinkle the dry food through the grass, you can place it inside a Kong with some peanut butter, butter or liverwurst. You can offer different foods and textures provided your dog is not prone to pancreatitis, in which case it is better to remain consistent. All chicken fed to dogs is now required to be cooked beforehand due to a link to a rare neurological disease. On hot days, a block of ice with treats frozen inside can provide a lot of fun.
Go and have fun with your dog over the next few weeks and your dog will thank you for it. Get the family involved with making toys for dogs, grooming them and playing with them.
While you may be in self isolation, your cat’s life may not be radically different to normal and they will love the extra pats and cuddles.
It would be wise to avoid your cat getting an abscess (infection) from fighting with other cats at the moment so keeping your cat inside at night is really important. Playing games with your cat will give you pleasure and fun and having a cuddle may alleviate our own stress and anxiety.
We hope you will find this time at home with your pets rewarding and a time to slow down, watch the world through their eyes and have lots of cuddles.
They will love you for it!!!