The effects of lockdown for pets can be a difficult and confusing time. Now, their main caregivers are at home all hours of the day, potentially disrupting their routines without understanding the reasons why. Just like us, our pets react in different ways to changes in routine. For some pets, this is a boon.
Owners are sharing countless stories about their dogs acting with boundless energy due to a limited number of walks or becoming more needy and gravitating towards – or on top of – their home desks for cuddles and naps. Cats are just as lively too, with many eyeing up their owners for additional treats and extra playtime.
Yet for pets that find solace in their solitude, it can be a hindrance. With children home from school and caregivers moving around more frequently doing odd jobs or tasks around the house, some animals may find their favourite places are no longer a safe space.
These slight changes in routine can be enough to cause additional stress to companions, resulting in shifts in their overall behaviour towards us and, subsequently, their relationship with food.
During times of extraordinary change, it’s important to care for the health and wellbeing of pets, just as much as our own. Fortunately, there are many things owners – and we, as experts – can do to help them adjust to life in lockdown, as well as adapt to a more normal way of life afterwards.
Since it is easy for caregivers to get carried away and pander to pets’ wants rather than needs, setting boundaries for them will help. For example, owners should take time to mentally stimulate companions during set times of the day, i.e. in the morning after waking or just before dinner, so they understand when it is playtime. The RSPCA has shared several fun activities that owners can try with leftover toilet rolls and empty cardboard boxes, including a cat hunt game, a tunnel or maze for rodents, and a dog scent game to help keep them entertained.
Alternatively, owners should incorporate their daily allowance of treats into trick training or by using interactive feeders. These food puzzles are great for mental stimulation, ensure they feed more slowly, and provide superb environmental enrichment.
Diet and Wellness
Mental stimulation is only one side of the coin. While lockdown is in effect, it is vital to ensure pets are still getting a variety of nutritional food, treats and chew toys to promote overall wellness. With vets estimating that over a third of cats and nearly half of all dogs in the UK are overweight, it’s now more important than ever to make sure pets retain a healthy lifestyle during (and after) the crisis.
From chew sticks for dental hygiene to pet food naturally rich in proteins, fibre and antioxidants, nutritional foods that support growth and help to combat disease are superb for promoting animal wellness. For example, salmon oil has been well documented for its health benefits in aiding muscle recovery, its ability to lower blood pressure and improve cognitive function in ageing pets.
Rich in long-chain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 fatty acids, salmon oil comes in many different forms, including liquid, powder and capsule supplements and as an ingredient in premium pet foods.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect, it’s often recommended by veterinarian specialists (following the correct dosage as and when required) to ease joint pain and reduce inflammation associated with heart failure in both cats and dogs.
Given the abundance of health benefits salmon oil brings to pets, finding a trusted, sustainable and reputable manufacturer can be overwhelming. It’s why we recommend sourcing an ingredient or supplement that’s been manufactured from fresh, high quality salmon parts by means of natural and non-GMO industrial enzymes.
This means the amino acids can be absorbed by pets much faster and maximises nutrient delivery to tissues in the body – a vital need for companions struggling from the effects of lockdown.
Collectively, as experts and suppliers in pet health, care and wellbeing, we need to come together to ensure animals across the UK and beyond are being looked after during and after this crisis.
With more days spent at home, separation anxiety will become evident when the new ‘normal’ way of life resumes. To sustain pet wellness during this time, we need to support owners by offering services that go above and beyond our normal remits. Be it through sharing advice around health supplements, premium pet food or toys, it’s our role to ensure household pets get the best care.
By Marianne Warnaer, Biomega