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Pandemic Pets: 3 Tips for Chicagoland Pet Owners

Apr 30, 2020 06:44PM ● By Carol Novello

Photo credits: Mutual Rescue

by Carol Novello

Whether newly fostering or adopting a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic, or quarantined with a longtime animal companion, we may find ourselves wondering how to make the best of this unusual time together. Here are some helpful tips to keep pets engaged—and provide something other than the coronavirus news to focus on.

Three Canine Quarantine Companion Tips

Teach Your Dog Recall: Recall training teaches your dog to come when you call. This is an incredibly important “trick” for your dog to know, as it can be lifesaving if he or she were ever to get loose and run toward a busy road. There are tons of resources online, so use this time in quarantine to dig in. You can practice it anywhere, including your living room.

Create Indoor Exercise Time: Use stairs if you have them or set up an indoor obstacle course for your pooch. Get creative with fun ways to exercise your dog indoors, then document and share on social media. Your animal-loving friends are probably looking for fun pandemic pet ideas, too.

Make a Hollow Toy Into a Treat: Keep your dog occupied and happy after a fun day of indoor play (or while you’re busy fulfilling your remote working or quarantine parenting duties) by filling a hollow toy with peanut butter or canned pumpkin and freezing it. Share the frozen treat with pups and watch how much they love it.

Three Feline Quarantine Companion Tips

Make Cat Toys: Cats love things they can bat and chase. For example, have you seen some of the crocheted coronavirus toys people are making? A quick search will find some fun patterns. Fill homemade toys with dried catnip to attract your cat even more and encourage play time.

Attach Cat Toys to Doorknobs: Cats love things that dangle—to which anyone with a kitten and curtains can attest. Keep kitties focused on what you want them to be playing with by dangling cat toys from doorknobs around your home.

Create Vertical Kitty Space: Pick a wall in an area your cat enjoys and add some DIY vertical shelves. You can order these online. Cats love to perch, so gift them with places to be other than on top of your keyboard while you’re working (or playing) from home.

Above all, remember to focus on how very lucky we are to have the unconditional love of our furry companion. Having a pet in our life as we navigate tough times can lessen stress and lift our spirits—and the latest research agrees.

When we interact with a pet, molecules of oxytocin click into the receptors embedded deep in the body and work their magic, slowing heart rate, relaxing blood vessels, and lowering blood pressure—all of which help protect the heart.

An adoring dog or cat isn’t guaranteed to make us feel better, but there are millions of people around the world to vouch for the fact that it can.

Carol Novello is the founder of Mutual Rescue, a national initiative that highlights the connection between people and pets in order to inspire and support life-saving efforts in communities across the nation and world. She is also the author of Mutual Rescue: How Adopting a Homeless Animal Can Save You, Too. For more information, visit MutualRescue.org and Natural Awakenings online for more Chicagoland Mutual Rescue tips.

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