How to care for pets in lockdown

  • 12th May 20
How to care for pets in lockdown

Pets can bring so much joy to their owners’ lives. Reducing anxiety and loneliness, providing companionship and lifting the mood. In lockdown, pets are proving to be a lifesaver for many and offering the structure that is missing. But just like us, pets can also find this situation challenging, which can result in a downturn in behaviour. With people constantly in the house, reduced exercise time and picking up on general anxiety, it’s time to give back some reassurances to your four-legged friends.


For both physical and mental health, it is important that dogs go for daily walks, and short toilet breaks as necessary. When you go for a dog walk, maintain social distance from others so keep your dog on a lead when near people and wash your hands thoroughly before you leave and when you return home. If a neighbour has to self-isolate for twelve weeks, then providing you are healthy, it is important to offer support for those that are vulnerable. Pop a note through their door to see if you can walk their dog but follow a number of precautions. Before and after a walk, make sure you are regularly washing your hands. You still need to keep two metres apart so for handover, if the isolated person lets their dog into a contained area first then moves back inside, then the walker can come in to introduce themselves. On returning, wipe the dog down with a clean, damp, disposable cloth or consider getting an antibacterial spray such as Leucillin, which is safe and used by groomers in case of nicks and grazes.

Cats on the prowl

If nobody in your home has Coronavirus symptoms, then cats can continue to go outside. However, it is best to minimise your contact with them during this time and maintain good hygiene. If you are self-isolating, then it is advisable to keep your cat in until you recover if it does not cause them too much distress. Otherwise, continue to let them out, but try to minimise interactions with them and wash your hands before and afterwards. For both dogs and cats, while there is no evidence that they can transmit Covid-19 to people, it is possible that the virus may survive on pets’ fur for a short time, as with other surfaces. 

Let sleeping dogs (and cats) lie

Ever wondered what your pets do all day while you are at work. The answer is probably sleep as most cats and dogs are used to having long nap times when we are not home. Now we are home all the time, it is a bit of an adjustment for them. Throw in a couple of children who are noisy and playful, it’s no wonder pets seem to be lethargic as they cope with the increased stimulation. Help them get their downtime by giving them undisturbed space. If you have young children, give the animals a room or space that the children can’t enter. If your pets want your attention, they will let you know. Without allowing them to rest, they could easily get stressed. Signs to look out for in an anxious pet include a dog licking their lips or a cat hissing.


Your dog may need to get used to reduced walking time so it is important that you provide mental stimulation too. If you find they are increasing unwanted behaviours such as chewing, they may be bored so get them into food toys and trick training, there’s some great videos to watch on YouTube. Longer lasting chews or fillable toys such as Kongs are a great way to keep your dog amused, especially while you are on an important Zoom call. Most dogs love tug-of-war or just running for a ball for a few minutes, it often doesn’t take long to wear them out. For cats, recycle your empty toilet roll tubes to build a pyramid structure to hide treats and find scratching posts, anything that gets them thinking will stimulate their senses and tire them out.


Just as we can survive without a haircut your pooch can too but you must do your best to ensure that big mats are avoided. If you want to try grooming yourself, make sure you have pet clippers rather than scissors or beard trimmers. When bathing dogs, give them a brush out first, especially for longer-haired dogs whose fur can get tangled. Be sure to use dog shampoo and rinse them thoroughly to avoid infections. There are various dog conditioning and detangling sprays that can be used to keep fur soft and invest in a good dog brush to help remove dead hair and dirt, which keeps the skin and coat healthy.

Poorly pets

Vets have been asked to keep an emergency service open so call your vet if you have any concerns. They may be able to offer an online or phone consultation before setting foot in the surgery. Now is not the time to get a puppy or kitten because most clinics are not offering vaccines, which means your pet is not able to go outside. With more people at home, remind them to be extra careful about leaving food out that pets could eat and cause them to be sick. The most dangerous foods for dogs and cats are: alcohol, onions and garlic, caffeine, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, Xylitol (found in toothpaste and sweets), chocolate, fat trimming and bones and yeast dough.

Life after lockdown

For those without a pet, it is very tempting to get one during lockdown, after all, we are all at home so some people might think it makes sense. In fact, The Dogs Trust has said that online searches about getting a puppy surged by 120% during lockdown. The charity is urging people to really consider how they will care for their pup once the lockdown is lifted. There’s a huge cost and time implication to owning a pet so this time we have at home would be better used to carefully research all breed options and a contingency plan for funds to cover vet bills, care for when you are away and grooming costs. Pets are truly wonderful and they deserve owners that can care for them through the good and bad times.






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