Ireland now has a plan to re-open. Even as shops and cafes open and more people go back to their offices, our new normal at every phase and for the foreseeable future will include social distancing or staying two meters apart from people outside our household.
Social distancing feels unnatural to us and it’s even more unnatural for our pets, particularly those of us with social animals who just love to say hello. Yet, it’s incredibly important that we keep our distance.
Social distancing as a dog owner presents some interesting challenges. So, it’s no surprise that some of the most common questions we see relate to our dogs’ roles in social distancing. So, we put together a few rules that pet owners can follow to everyone, including our furry friends, happy and healthy.
How Does Social Distancing Impact Our Dogs?
The good news is that social distancing shouldn’t impact the way you interact with your pet, at least while you’re healthy.
In most cases, it means making sure you have enough food and water for your pet in case you get sick and can’t get out for two weeks. The same is true for any medication your pet takes regularly.
If you can, it’s good to fill out a form stating who your vet is and who, if anyone, may care for your pet in case you need to go to the hospital.
However, pet owners will experience some changes when out in public, particularly when walking your dog or bringing them to the dog park.
How to Walk Your Dog in the Age of Social Distancing
Right now, everyone can take their daily exercise within 2 km of their home. You can absolutely use that time to walk your dog, but you must be sure you stay 2 meters apart from other people at all times.
Everyone can go out for their daily exercise as long as they’re healthy. So, if you have an energetic dog at home, each member of your household can take them out as they go for their daily walk.
If you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms, you should avoid dog walking and instead play with your dog in your garden to avoid other people. If you don’t have a garden or you are too unwell, a friend or relative may walk your dog, but they must follow the guidelines set by the HSE. to ensure minimal contact.
What about interacting with other dogs outside of your household?
You should greet, pet, and walk other peoples’ dogs with caution. Although there’s no evidence that pets can contract or spread the disease, the virus may live on their fur, collar, or lead. So, it is important to give pets the same berth you give their owners. As always, wash your hands thoroughly after being in contact with an animal.
What to Do if You Can’t Take Your Dog Out
If you do have to stay indoors and keep your dog in with you, you can make the time more pleasant for both of you by providing games and mental stimulation to keep them entertained. You don’t need to become an expert behaviourist overnight. The right dog toys can help you out and keep your pup happily occupied.
Kong dog toys are great boredom busters, and they’re easy on your pocketbook. A few other puzzle toys to try include:
- West Paw Qwizl Treat Dispensing Dog Puzzle Tow
- Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball
- Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Tornado
- Outward Hound Hide-a-Squirrel
Question? Ask Your Vet
As our lives begin to creep back towards normality, social distancing will remain the rule. It will keep the rate of infection down and protect the most vulnerable members of our society.
As long as you are healthy, social distancing won’t have much of an impact on your dog. When out on walks, keep your distance from other people and avoid petting dogs from other households.
Are you worried about caring for your pet as we continue to practice social distancing? Do you have questions about your pets’ health? Get in touch with your dog’s veterinarian. They’ll be happy to help recommend solutions for keeping your pet healthy and occupied.
Kilkenny SPCA is working hard to support animals in County Kilkenny, but our traditional means of fundraising aren’t possible yet. Can you help us continue our mission to stop the abuse and neglect of animals?
Please text NEGLECT to 50300 to donate €4 to Kilkenny SPCA.