Pets provide people with valuable companionship and unconditional love. They can also greatly contribute to our health. Having and loving a pet can help to reduce stress and anxiety, ease depression, encourage exercise, and even improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure.
All of these benefits are even more essential during these nerve-racking times. For those of us who have and love pets, we also want to do all we can to keep them healthy as well.
As I am prepping for the re-launch of the Healthy Aging Summit in June this year, I had the privilege of interviewing an internationally renowned veterinarian Dr. Judy Morgan. While interviewing her about how to keep our pets healthy as they age, I also took the opportunity to ask questions about how to best care for our pets during this time of pandemic. Dr. Morgan responded that “our pets are sponges of our emotions, and if you are dealing with stress, anxiety and fear, your pets are feeling that way as well.” Just like humans, pets need to be reassured that everything is going to be OK.
Pets can exhibit anxiety and stress by urinating or defecating in the house, becoming destructive, restless, compulsive or aggressive, or showing signs of fear, such as hiding.
Dr. Morgan reiterated that our pets respond best to calm and loving manners in their human companions. She recommended that we try our best to maintain a normal routine, love and reassure them through snuggling and petting, and keep a sense of calm.
Some of her recommendations:
- Playing soothing music in the house as opposed to the news
- Maintaining daily walks and playtime
- If you can’t get outside, play games inside like hide-n-seek (hide some treats around the house and have your pet seek them out)
- Offer brain stimulation by teaching you pet a new trick or using a food dispensing toy or puzzle
This can also be a great time to work on obedience training.
One thing she warned against is showing love and affection with food! Like with people, if we use food to comfort our pets, we will all emerge from this time of quarantine 10 pounds heavier!
During this time of quarantine, you also need to prepare for your pet just as you would prepare your family. This includes having a 2-4 week supply of food, medications (don’t forget subscription medications), litter and other supplies.
And if you are wondering if your pet can contract COVID -19, so far, there have been a few reports of pets being infected: a cat in Belgium and two dogs in Hong Kong. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Organization for Animal Health have also said that there is no evidence at this time that companion animals can spread the COVID-19 virus.
If you are so inclined, now would be a great time to adopt or foster a pet. Many shelters are being overrun with people giving up their pets during this crisis. Additionally, animal shelters, like businesses, have had to go to skeleton staffs, so there are fewer people able to care for the animals. Please reach out to shelters and rescue groups in your area for more information. Even temporarily fostering a pet would ease the burden.
We can best help our pets and ourselves during these trying times by maintaining a healthy routine and finding ways to nurture a calm and peaceful household.
is a Physical Therapist,
Nutrition Consultant and
Doctor of Integrative Medicine.
She has been treating women with osteoporosis for over 30 years and is dedicated to helping people achieve
lasting good health and vitality.
Want to learn more about how you can improve your bone health? Contact me for a free 15 minute phone consult to learn more about the BONES Method™ and how it can help you achieve strong, healthy bones for life!