How do I keep up with all of my pets' needs during COVID-19?

posted: by: Wellington Veterinary Hospital Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Are you having trouble keeping up with your dog’s energy at home? Is your cat very confused about the change in routine around the house and acting out”? Are you having trouble figuring out what to do with your dog’s shaggy hair? Your dog or cat’s long nails? 


Well, we are here to help with all of your pets needs while you are physical (social) distancing. We will give you tips and tricks on in-home grooming, nail trims and of course, fun activities to do inside to keep your pets occupied while everyone is staying safe at home! 


Let’s start off by addressing the question, “Is it safe to take my dog for a walk during this time?” According to Health Canada, it is safe to walk your dogs as long as the area you are walking in is not crowded and you are able to keep 2 meters (6 ft) of distance between you and others. If you are self-isolating due to a high possibility of exposure to COVID-19 (from recent travel), are symptomatic or have tested positive, it is advised that you try to avoid contact with your pets due to the possibility of them being a surface carrier and spreading it to others. If possible, having others care for your pets until you are clear would be ideal. Otherwise keep your pet indoors and away from others to avoid spreading the virus. For cats that go outdoors, during this time it is best to keep them inside to prevent them bringing anything home to your family or spreading anything to others. 


Here are some ways to help keep your pets moving and engaged during their time indoors:


Scent work using treats (dogs & cats)

·       Offer them one box/cup with a treat and one without and use the commands “Sit, Stay” to make them wait. Then allow them to find the treat.

·       Start to make it more difficult by flipping over the cup/box and have them figure out how to get the treat.

·       Eventually, increase the difficulty by adding more cups/boxes and hiding them in places around the house.

* This is a great indoor activity to keep your pets busy because they reward themselves with treats when they find the box with the treat.

Hide and seek (dogs mostly)

·       Tell your dog to “Sit & Stay”, go hide, and then call them 

* Great game for kids to play with the dog and to practice basic commands with your pet. Added bonus – have a treat reward to give them when they find you!

Feeding time activities (cats)

·      Using a muffin tray for their wet food is a great way to make them work for their food

·      Hiding their kibble in different areas of the house to encourage their  hunting instinct

Feeding time activities (dogs)

·      Stuff their kong toys with their food and some peanut butter 

·      You can also use it for treats such as biscuits, frozen PB, or canned pumpkin

·      Make your own toy – cut an old t-shirt into strips and braid it, knot it, or tie it however you like. This can be used as a great chew toy (make sure they don’t rip it apart and eat the pieces) or you can weave a few treats into it to turn it into a DIY treat toy. 

Exercises (dogs) 

·      Sit-to-stands

·      Cookie Stretches

·      Elevated Standing

·      3-leg Stand

Exercises (cats) 

·      Laser pointer

·      Using boxes and adding some of their toys into it

·      Using boxes and cat tunnels to make obstacle courses using a string/feather toy to guide them through it


Next up, you are probably wondering how to keep up with your pets grooming during this time. Here are some great tips on how to give them baths, cut their nails, groom their hair, and keep them smelling fresh and clean!


Tools you will need: 

·        Nail clippers for your dog and/or cat

Cat nail clippers Dog nail clippers

·        Dog shampoo & conditioner

·       Clippers *not scissors* if it is necessary to trim their hair/mats

·        Towels & Blow dryer (optional)

·        Brushes (Slicker brush, comb, furminator)


Bathing your dog:

·       It is best to always use dog shampoo and conditioner to maintain the proper pH balance of their skin and avoid irritation from human products

·        Using a “licky mat” (purchased or DIY) to keep them occupied while you bathe them 

- Licky Mat online link

·        When bathing, try not to get water in their ears or eyes – it is best to bath from the neck down and use a hand towel to wipe their face with just water

·        Towel dry or blow dry them (if they allow you to) 

* Please do not blow dry around their face to avoid hot air injuries

·       Brush out after they are (mostly) dry



·       If it is necessary to trim their hair due to mats or discomfort, it is best to always use clippers rather than scissors to avoid cutting the skin

·        Avoid the head and eye areas

·        Using clippers with a guard to control how close to the skin you get is a great tool to use

·        **The best thing to do is to brush your pets daily to help avoid mating of the fur**


Nail trimming:

·       Always use rewards after you cut a couple of nails to keep it a positive experience

·       Using dog or cat nail clippers, cut off a little bit each time

·        Constantly check to make sure you aren’t near the quick 

·        If you do hit the quick, hold off the area with a paper towel or tissue for 2 mins or use flour to help stop the bleeding. If it continues to bleed for more than 5 mins, please contact your vet


Lastly, we wanted to touch on the anxieties and stress of having a pet and not knowing if their issues warrant an exam at the vet clinic during this “essential services only” time. With you being around your pets more you will probably be checking on them more often than usual. During this time, an essential service is something that is to prevent or treat pain and things to maintain public health protocols (e.g. rabies vaccines).  Your vet clinic is always there to help but be sure to give them a call or email before bringing in your pet to discuss your concern and they will let you know if it warrants an exam or not. A lot of vet clinics are offering telemedicine consults to eliminate in person appointments. Please always consult your vet and try to avoid researching their problems as it will just cause more panic/stress. Your vet is knowledgeable and trained to help you the best way possible.