We all know that keeping ourselves entertained during lockdown can be challenging, but what about our pets? Keeping their minds active and engaged is important to keep them healthy and happy, so what can we do to keep our four-legged-friends busy while restrictions are in place?
PDSA Vet Anna Ewers Clark said: “Our dogs are probably most affected by the current restrictions, with fewer opportunities to walk and get outside. But all pets can find changes to their routine difficult and stressful, especially cats, so try to stick to your daily patterns. It’s also important to make sure you’re giving your pet their own space or a den in case they want some time alone – especially if you have a busy household where everyone is at home a lot.”
To help pet owners through the latest lockdown, Anna has put together some top tips on keeping dogs and cats entertained:
- Daily walks – make sure you get out for your daily exercise. It’s hugely important for your dog’s health, and yours too! Check the latest guidelines for your area and get outdoors (ideally in daylight) as much as you can within the rules. It’s best to keep dogs on a lead for now, unless you’re in an enclosed area with no other dogs or families – we can’t expect dogs to know social distancing rules!
- Fun and games – toys and games are great at providing mental stimulation as well as activity. Give them only two or three of their toys and swap for other toys daily to keep things fresh. Hiding their toys for them to sniff out is a great game, or try puzzle toys that keep them occupied if you need to get on with some work or homework supervision!
- Tricks and training – teaching your dog a new trick, or even recapping some basic training, is a great way to keep you both occupied.
- Fun and games – as above, give toys on a rota, swapping one or two each day to keep them fresh. Fishing rod-type toys, toys that move unpredictably, or puzzle feeders are great for keeping a curious kitty occupied for hours! Short and frequent periods of supervised playtime is also great for breaking the day up, for you and your cat!
- Scratch and sniff – cats love to scratch! A good scratching post that allows them to stretch out their back fully and take their weight, is vital. But the more opportunities to scratch the better, so providing multiple options is a great idea. A good cat tree is also worth, especially if your cat isn’t as keen to go outside in colder weather.
- ‘Catio’ patio – if you have an indoor cat, some outdoor space and time on your hands, you could consider creating a ‘catio’. This is an enclosed outdoor space that allows your cat to get fresh air and have fun outdoors, while keeping them nice and safe.
- Keep to a routine and give them their own space.
Anna added: “Despite the difficulties of the current situation, I think many pet owners would agree that the opportunity to spend more time with our pets is one silver lining. Our pets give us so much, and spending quality time with them will help you both get through this.”
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk