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Greenwich Animal Hospital
(203) 869-0534
Human holding up tablet, taking photo of German Shepherd and brown tabby cat posing together. Text reads: Stuck at home together... now what?
Dear Greenwich Animal Hospital friends, 

Spending quality (and quantity) time at home with our adorable pets likely sounds like a dream gig to most of us. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of extra cuddle time, more sloppy kisses, plentiful purrs, and head bonks? But a few folks have thoughtfully brought up some potential issues that this new shelter-in-place world poses, like weight gain in their pets or avoiding separation anxiety once we all do go back to work.

We’d like to share a few tips and tricks with you for helping keep pets – both new and established - active and happily distracted through quarantine.

Speaking of new pets... 
Due to the current lockdown, many families are adopting or fostering dogs and cats – which is great! Puppies, dogs, cats, and kittens can be high-energy pets who might not be entirely down with the whole quarantine idea, however. It’s wonderful that the shelters are emptying, but a new pet locked in the house with a family can present some challenges.
Young girl holding cute white cat with Beagle leaning in sniffing cat to say hello.
You may have to get a little creative with ways to keep them active and entertained while you also practice social distancing. Never fear, we've got some ideas for you. Read on! 

Sweet big brown and tan Shepherd mix looking into the camera. Foster independence.
If your dog or cat is prone to separation anxiety, all this bonus time with you might present a problem once normalcy returns. You want to encourage your pet to feel safe while home alone, and also have enough distractions around that they won’t miss you that much while you are out. Some strategic trips out and about while your pet is home alone can help.
Leave your pet a special toy to help them associate your absence with something pleasant, and make your trips progressively longer so they can gradually adapt. When you come back, try not to get them too excited and allow them to calm down. A calm, quick exit and return communicates to your pet that being away is no big deal.

Other tips for managing pet boredom and anxiety:

Collage image showing tips for helping prevent boredom: radio and peanut butter or cream cheese in Kong for dogs; bird shows and food puzzles for cats.

Attention over treats.
You might find those deep brown eyes irresistible when they’re staring at you while you eat lunch, but avoid the temptation to overdo it on treats and food (especially human food) while you all are stuck inside. Instead, take the opportunity to go out and get some fresh air with your dog (sticking to our community’s guidelines) or engage your cat in a fun play session.
Black and white kitty and white Maltese dog sitting at table, looking at plate of human food.
Also, if you find yourself tempted to toss a treat to your dog too many times, try switching to carrots. Most dogs love them, and they have next to no calories. (Avoid grapes, though – they can be toxic to dogs).

One of the best things you can do for your pet in this quarantine situation is keep a cool head and gather information from reputable sources. Recently, two cats from NYC  were diagnosed with COVID-19 infections and had mild respiratory symptoms. Both are expected to fully recover and lived in households with a COVID positive person. This is completely unsurprising, not a cause for any alarm (and certainly not a reason to get rid of your pets!), and changes nothing.

Collage image showing tips for social distancing with pets. •	If you socially distance your pet(s) in the same way you should be socially distancing yourself from other people, there is basically no chance they will bring this virus into the household.
We recommend reading (and following!) Dr. Scott Weese's Worms and Germs blog for more information on COVID-19 and pets: 
Worm and Germs Blog: Pets and COVID-19 Fears

Very cute gray cat grabbing a grooming brush a human hand is attempting to use on her.
Don’t believe the cat hype.
Contrary to some currently popular internet memes, your cat is likely enjoying your extra company, too. Consider using some of your extra time together to play with your cat, create food puzzles to bring out their inner hunter, and strengthen your bond with grooming sessions. Pay attention to your cat's reactions to make sure the activity is desired.
Respect your cat's routine and space, and you may find that extra time at home together is a terrific opportunity to get to know each other better and build your relationship with your feline friend!

Social puppies, happy dogs.
If you’ve recently adopted a new puppy or dog, you may be especially concerned about the challenges of socializing your new doggo so they’re comfortable with new people, pets, and experiences. The usual recommendations of puppy classes, dog parks, and obedience schools won’t fly here, so you’ll need to think outside the box. 
Adorable white mixed breed puppy sitting on couch, grinning into camera.
Rewarding your dog with praise, pets, and (a few small) treats when they see people and dogs from afar on walks is a good start (make sure you only reward desired behavior, not barking and lunging). You can also reward your dog for neutral and positive reactions to simple noises in your home, like hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, even recordings of nature sounds like thunderstorms. Many certified trainers are offering virtual consults and can give you more suggestions for socializing your puppy while in quarantine. 

Brown and white tabby cat laying with face upside down, staring into camera playfully. Observe and take notice.
If you’re spending extra time with your pet (and who isn’t?) you might notice little things that went unnoticed in pre-pandemic life.

Things that might seem obvious now that could have flown under the radar might include:
- Changes in water or food intake
- Lumps, bumps or skin changes

- Changes in activity level
If you do notice anything new while cooped up with your pet, please give us a call to see what we recommend. The pandemic situation may temporarily affect appointment availability and/or the way we perform appointments, but your first step should be to call us so we can determine the next step for your pet. 

For additional information on COVID-19 for pet owners, we recommend these articles: 
Veterinary Partner COVID-19 FAQ for Pet Owners
AVMA: SARS-CoV-2 in animals, including pets
CDC: Daily Life and Coping - If You Have Animals
CDC: Two Pet Cats in NY Test Positive for COVID-19
Worm and Germs Blog: Pets and COVID-19 Fears

Information and recommendations may change as our understanding of the virus and associated disease evolves, so be sure to check with us and/or monitor the shared sources in this newsletter regularly for new information.  

We wish you luck and health during these challenging times. We hope these tips help keep you and your pet mentally and physically healthy while you spend extra time together. Please let us know if you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or well-being. We're here for you both! 

Your friends at Greenwich Animal Hospital
Thank you for trusting Greenwich Animal Hospital with the care of your pet's health.
This electronic communication is being sent to you by VINx on behalf of Greenwich Animal Hospital - 430 W. Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT 06830 USA.
(VINx is a division of the Veterinary Information Network, 777 West Covell Blvd, Davis, California, 95616, USA,
 (800) 454-0576)
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