It’s A Dog’s Life
Lockdown has been unusual for everyone, including our four-legged friends. Suddenly, with no warning, you’ve taken over their space and been around 24/7. You may have even introduced a new pooch to the family who’s only ever known you being at home. All the time.
So as we emerge out of Lockdown, how do we make it easier for our canine friends to adjust? We caught up with vet Dr Louisa Graham and Laughing Dog premium pet food to find out more about how to care for your pets as lockdown begins to ease.
- Easing back to work – It’s important you don’t change your pet’s routine too much and make sure you try and keep their routine consistent. If they’re used to spending a lot of time with you, then try and give them some alone time. Dogs need to feel comfortable being alone in order to prevent behavioural issues such as separation anxiety when our daily routines change again by returning to work. Try and leave them alone in the house for short periods and build it up over time – a great tip is to associate this down time with something positive like a treat.
- Socialise with other households – I always put a lead on my dog whenever I see someone else’s dog on a lead, but of course that’s your choice. Try not to let your dog run towards other people, only because this could mean you end up having to interact to retrieve your dog, and they may feel uncomfortable being in close contact. There is still no evidence that dogs can transmit COVID-19 or be infected, but to be safe (and to keep us safe) if your dog is from a family with someone showing symptoms then it’s best to always keep them on the lead when you’re out of the house.
- Managing hot weather – It sounds obvious but make sure your dog has access to water at all times and check the bowl regularly. If you’re worried about their hydration, try adding ice cubes to water bowls or make frozen treats, as this will keep them hydrated and refreshed in this warm temperature. Cool mats are a useful trick too, or you can get them little neckerchiefs to keep them cool. Definitely avoid any room with no air circulation like a greenhouse or conservatory, this can be harmful for your dog, and utilise open windows or fans (if you have them) if it helps to cool down a room. Absolutely do not leave your dogs in hot cars.
- Taking your dog out in the sun – A lot of people don’t realise that pets can get sunburnt too, but they can, and this can lead to flaky and damaged skin. Make sure your dog is hydrated at all times and check the pavement or ground is not too hot by touching the floor with the back of your hand for 5 seconds – if you can’t hold it there, then it’s too hot for any furry paws! Do not walk or exercise in the heat at all – they will keep going and we will push them too far without realising. I always walk in the morning or at night out of the heat of the day. If you do exercise when sunny, do so where there is plenty of shade and take lots of stops if you’re unsure about the heat. If you have access, try and get them to cool off in body water – my spaniel Finn loves jumping in streams and shallow lakes to cool off! Don’t cover your pets with wet towels as the towels can actually get warm, which stops them cooling down.
- Portion control and feeding – 50% of our pets in the UK are unfortunately overweight, which brings an abundance of health issues. Let’s not escalate this with unnecessary and excessive feeding whilst being in lockdown. Utilise interactive feeding and exercise advice by trying to maintain a healthy weight for your dog; a healthy dog = a happy dog! For example, Laughing Dog Food Naturally 5 is a complete which it supports a balanced recipe for healthy digestion, immunity, joints, bones and teeth. In times of uncertainty take advantage of food suppliers that offer a subscription service of balanced dog food. Laughing Dog, for example, offers a monthly delivery package of your chosen dog food which enables continuity and consistency (plus – when you subscribe online via the website, you’ll receive free healthy treats for your pet too!).
- Encourage play when you’re with them – When dogs are bored or lonely, they will create their own games which may lead to inappropriate and destructive behaviour. When you have time with your dog, why not make an assault course to keep them occupied? Use chairs to walk around/on, and towels/mops/pillows/rugs to walk over. If you have spare soil or bark for your garden, you could create a digging area and hide toys or treats in there for some supervised digging. If you don’t have outside space, I would also recommend getting creative by putting cardboard boxes together, cutting holes in them to make-shift your own maze and tunnels.
Laughing Dog premium pet food offers all consumers a pet food home subscription service. Use LDTreats to receive 15% off orders. Visit www.laughingdogfood.com to find out more.