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Lockdown Pets

High Street To Home, our expert tips series, is back this week with some help and advice for our furry four-legged friends! Lockdown has not only had an effect on us as human beings, but also on our beloved pets. Restrictions and guidelines have meant that it’s been harder to give our fur babies the exercise they need, or perhaps you’ve struggled to get your hands on their favourite treats and food for meal times. Luckily, we live among local animal experts who are here to offer a helping hand – or paw!

Fussy Eaters
Ask any dog owner and they’re likely to tell you that man’s best friend is usually anything but fussy when it comes to food and will eat practically anything, but that’s not to say that they should! So many foods can disagree with our dog’s sensitive stomachs, and Fur Family Pets in Harborne tells us that food allergies are actually the 3rd most common illness in dogs.

Most owners are aware of the absolute must-avoid foods for their dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, apple seeds, avocados and onions. But what you might not realise is that other overlooked ingredients can also trigger a bad reaction for your canine companion, including chicken, beef, lamb, eggs, soya, colourings, wheat and peas!

The team at Fur Family Pets ask that you keep your eyes peeled for tell-tale symptoms:

  • Excess and non-seasonal itching
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Excess watery eyes
  • Excess gas and bloating

Should you notice any of these symptoms, it could very well be that your dog has an underlying food allergy, and you should consult with your vet. From there, why not opt for a Fur Family Pets hypoallergenic dog food with single source unusual proteins, such as duck and pork. Alternatively, make sure the food you buy has clear labelling so that you know what ingredients are used in order to avoid nasty allergic flair ups! Since 2018, Fur Family Pets have specialised in helping local dogs beat their allergies by establishing special healthy diets, so do get in touch for further expert help and advice.

Indoor Exercise
Spending time social distancing from other people means spending less time outdoors, which has left many of us asking how best to ensure our pets are getting enough exercise, especially for high risk pet owners who are on complete lockdown. We turned to the PDSA, who reiterate that it’s very important to still try and walk your dog, or cat for some owners, where possible at least once a day as it’s crucial for their physical and mental health. Remember to social distance, thoroughly wash your hands upon returning home, and don’t forget your poo bags!

Think about offering help to a vulnerable neighbour who might have been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks. You are allowed to walk their dog for them, as long as you are healthy and not showing any COVID-19 symptoms. Be sure to follow very strict social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

When it comes to indoor exercise, there are many fun and interactive things you can do to keep your pets physically and mentally stimulated. Take the time to play with your pets and their favourite toys, which you could hide around the house as a kind of scavenger hunt that might keep them busy for 5 minutes or so! Mental stimulation is just as important as a good energy-burning run around, so think about investing in some puzzle feeders if you don’t already have one.

You could even create a destruction box – simply fill an old cardboard box with shredded, scrunched up paper and bury some toys and treats at the bottom for your furry friend to find! Alternatively, it’s so easy to make a new chew toy at home using a pet-safe ball and just some scrap material, whether that be from old clothes or spare towels. For a full step-by-step guide, visit the PDSA website.

Finally, it’s a great idea to take advantage of this extra time with your pet and dedicate it to training! They love to learn new things at any age, so help to keep their minds sharp with short positive rewards-based training sessions. 

Kitty Concerns
It’s only natural to have questions and concerns at this time – we’re all going through something very out of the ordinary and learning to deal with each day as it comes. This is new territory for us all, but when it comes to your cat, our friends at Cats Protection are here to put your mind at ease. 

Can my cat still go outside?
Providing that nobody in your home has COVID-19 symptoms, your cat can continue to go outside as normal. At this time, there is very little evidence that humans can transmit COVID-19 to cats, or vice versa, but there is a chance that the virus could survive on fur for a short period of time. In general, do not worry unnecessarily – simply practice good hygiene by washing your hands after coming into contact with your cat.

On the other hand, if you have been diagnosed with, are suspected of having, or are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you should try to minimise unsupervised outdoor time for your cat. Keep your cat indoors if possible and if your cat is happy to do so, but be sure to keep your cat active using some of the ideas above. This same advice is recommended for cat owners in the vulnerable category set out by the government, even if you are currently well.

What if my cat needs to go to the Vet?
This advice applies to all pets in general – do not take your pet to the vets unless you have been instructed to do so. Your first port of call should be to call your vet to discuss the issue and ask for advice. In most instances, only emergency treatment is being carried out at the moment. If you are self-isolating and you need to get your cat to the Vets, some Vets will kindly arrange to collect and return your pet, but for others you may need to arrange for someone else to do this for you. It’s good to have a plan in place with a family member or neighbour should a situation like this occur. 

Can I look after someone else’s cat?
Similarly to the previous question, there may be a situation where you need medical attention rather than your cat, in which case you would need to make plans to care for your cat while you’re gone. In general, it is advised not to let someone else take your cat into their home, and not to go into someone else’s home to look after their cat. You may need to discuss the best course of action with your Vet or the local authorities. This is simply because of how little we still know about COVID-19 – how long the virus might survive on fur and the possibility of virus transmission in this way. Don’t stroke friendly cats or let them into your house for a “visit” as you might normally do so. All of this helps to minimise the risk of spreading this deadly virus. 

Cats Protection are also encouraging all cat owners to make an emergency pet plan. While it’s hard to think about, it’s important that we put a plan in place in case of an emergency situation, ensuring that your cat is always well looked after. 

Fur further advice, check out the Cats Protection FAQ page. 

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