The adults are home, the kids are home, the pets are home, the pollen is popping, everything is closed, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s time for your pet’s monthly grooming session. So, with all that we have on our plates, HOW do we keep our pets AND our homes spiffed up and germ free during this time of social distancing?
Here are my recommendations for four easy things to do right now.
Pets and Social Distancing
Is it safe to walk my dog during COVID social distancing?
When walking dogs right now it’s best to discourage interaction with well-meaning humans (who can’t resist the urge to say hey to your dog), but also with other dogs who are close to those or other well-meaning humans. The concern here is from fellow two-leggers, not four-leggers.
- Depending on where you live, dog parks may be closed. Even if they’re open, it’s not advised to visit one during this time.
- When possible, choose an area for a walk that’s less likely to be crowded or choose a time of day when others are less likely to be walking their dogs.
- When walking your dog, invest in a 6-inch leash like this nylon leash from Frisco, so dogs can say hello to each other without you having to come too close to the other pet parent.
- Veterinarians discourage the use of retractable leashes as they tend to get tangled and possibly break if your pup takes off after a friend or a foe (squirrel!).
- Err on the side of caution and politely ask people not to pet your dog right now.
Keep the Outside, Outside
What can I do to keep unwanted dirt, germs and pollen out of the house?
We’re all trying to keep things as “normal” as possible for ourselves and pets as we shelter in place. During this time, though, if you have an indoor/outdoor cat, said feline needs to choose one side of the door or the other, but dogs will still need their walks several times a day. That means plenty of dirt and, at this time of year, pollen coming into the house.
There is no evidence that pets can transmit COVID-19 to humans, but just as you are aware of the need to wash your hands after being outside and frequently washing surfaces that you may touch, so too be vigilant about what is being tracked into your home by little paws and furry coats. And, practicing good hygiene, including washing your hands before and after interacting with your pet, is always best practice.
Have a fully stocked pet cleaning station at the door:
- Heavy duty door mat to soak up moisture, mud and dirt/pollen from paws.
- Waterless pet shampoo for wiping down coats and paws or pet grooming wipes.
- Dog towels for drying off your pets after a rainy outing or quick wash-up.
Wipe down pets before they come back into the house after a walk, or even a run around the backyard. Pay special attention to paws, cleaning top and bottom, especially between pads. They will love the attention and you will lessen the chance of bringing unwanted dirt, germs and pollen into the house. Oh, and vacuum like you mean it on a regular basis!
Up Your Fresh and Clean Game
How often should I clean pet supplies and hangouts?
Because we’re all indoors most of the time right now, some extra attention to cleaning everyday pet items is a good idea especially if someone in your house has allergies to pets or pollen. All of these should be tasks that you tackle on a regular basis, but especially during spring and fall pollen seasons.
- Wash pet beds in the hottest water possible and add a little baking soda to soak up pet odors. Consider purchasing a bed with a removable cover, like FurHaven's Comfy Couch with cooling gel, to allow this to be done frequently.
- Deep clean pet collars and leashes by soaking them in a large bowl or bucket with a generous squirt of pet safe shampoo, like Douxo Chlorhexidine PS dog and cat shampoo.
- Clean pet bowls by running them through the dishwasher.
- Consider furniture covers for highly desirable lounging spots so that you can easily remove them and shake off pet hair outside before washing.
- Deep clean hard pet toys in the dishwasher and plush toys in the washing machine.
- Change litter daily, and sprinkle in a little baking soda with the litter to keep odors down.
- Use litter mats outside of each box to prevent little kitty paws from tracking litter through the house.
Pet Grooming and Care
My pet needs some grooming. Any tips for things I can do at home?
Your veterinarian has likely suspended non-essential services like nail trims and bathing, and perhaps your favorite groomer isn’t working either. We’ve created a comprehensive guide for pet grooming at home with help from a professional pet groomer, but here are a few important issues to keep an eye on.
- Brush your pets regularly—outside on a deck or patio if possible—to decrease shedding and the spread of pet dander in your household. These grooming gloves from Mr. Peanut's remove hair while you pet your dog or cat.
- Bathe as frequently as needed, which is likely about once monthly (unless you have an especially active pup who gets himself dirty frequently, or if your pet has skin issues and your vet has recommended more frequent bathing). Get tips for a stress-free bath time.
- Keep your pets current on their heartworm, flea and tick prevention to prevent internal and external parasites.
- Clean your pets ears weekly with an ear cleanser specifically designed for pets, like Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner. If you see redness or your pet seems painful, call your veterinarian.
- Brush your pets teeth at least three times per week to decrease tartar buildup and minimize doggy/kitty breath. In case of significant bleeding or discoloration of the gums, call your veterinarian. Learn how to brush your dog's teeth here. Learn how to brush your cat's there here.
- Keep under eye areas clean and free from debris to prevent tear duct blockage and eye infections. A product like Miracle Care Eye Clear Cleaning Pads can help with that.
- If you notice your pet scooting on the floor or licking at their bum, they may have a problem with their anal glands, and you should contact your veterinarian for advice.
I think we’re all feeling like our world will never be the same, and that social distancing has no end in sight. But, dear friends, it will all eventually come to an end, and our lives, and that of our pets, can return to “normal.” But until then, stay safe, stay sane, stay HOME (if you can) and know that Chewy is here to help.