It has certainly been a scary and uncertain time since COVID-19 popped up. The fear of the unknown, in addition to the constraints we have had to live under to slow the spread of the virus, has had an effect on everyone’s mental health.
Believe it or not, dogs are also being affected by the stress of current events. Their routines are off because of shelter-in-place orders. They may be exercising less, due to their human’s social distancing, and because we are home most of the time now, we may not realize we are slipping them more snacks. On top of that, our pups are intuitive, so they are picking up on our own stress and tension as well.
One thing is fortunate, although a few dogs have contracted COVID-19, they are not as susceptible to the virus as humans are. The dogs who have caught it we're all in close contact with people who had the virus.
The last thing we need right now is to worry about our pups getting sick. Stress plays a major role in health and wellness, for animals just as much as people. If you are feeling overwhelmed, here are a few ideas to help keep you and your dog safe and healthy.
1. Establish a Routine
Dogs can be very upset by a change in their routine. If you have had to work from home, or if you are an essential worker who has been pulling some difficult hours, your dog might be confused and nervous. You may have even noticed a change in behavior. They may be more destructive, sleeping more, or even doing odd things like licking or scratching. These are all stress responses.
Establishing a routine so your dog can feel like things are normal will help reduce their stress level and yours. Feeding at the same time, enjoying scheduled play-time, and even waking up at the same time every day will help reduce your dog’s stress level and create a feeling of normalcy for them and for you.
Consider a calming supplement for dogs by Hungry Bark to help relieve stress.
Exercise is proven to give our immune systems a boost. The same is true for our dogs. They need to keep moving to keep their bodies and immune systems strong. Of course, be sure you maintain social distancing while exercising your dog to prevent exposure to COVID-19.
- Maintain a distance of 6 feet from other walkers.
- Stay away from dog-parks to prevent contact with people and dogs outside your circle.
- Keep your dog leashed, and avoid retractable leashes in order to keep them close to you.
A light hike on a secluded trail or a long stroll around the neighborhood are good ways to help your dog burn off energy. If you have a large back yard, you can even set up a homemade agility course if you have an active dog that misses the dog park.
3. Good Nutrition
We all know good nutrition is important for good health. Limit the number of treats you give to your dog to prevent unintentional weight gain. Keep your dog on a nutritious diet that will help support their immune system. If you are working long hours, make sure you have someone you can trust to stop by and ensure your dog is fed at the same time every day.
Consider nutritional supplements for your dog. A vitamin, like Hungry Bark’s Multivitamin Supplement Dog Chews, will supply your dog with vitamins and minerals that are necessary to stay healthy. The supplement chews don’t just have vitamins, they also have probiotics. Probiotics are important for maintaining the gut’s flora, which has been shown to have a great effect on immune system function.
Everyone’s focus right now should be on maintaining good health. Attention to exercise, nutrition, and avoiding stress is an important part of health in the best of times. Now, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to these things. Plus, a happy, healthy dog will keep your stress levels low so you can focus on maintaining your health as well.