One benefit of working from home is the ability to work comfortably, with pets, of course. (Megan Glenn/News and Times)

While being at home all day certainly has its cons, there’s one pro we can all agree on: pets. Being at home when you have animals means you can devote more time to beloved family pets or even get one you’ve had your heart set on. Of course, they need care, too, and there are a few things to keep in mind this April when it comes to caring for your furry friends.

“It’s wonderful that we have the chance to be with our pets during this time,” said Dr. Anna Ruelle, veterinarian at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Waconia. “You can work, train, and interact with them.”

Going outside is important to many pets, and can help their pet owners. Dogs, for example, should go outside at some point, especially if they are used to having regular walks. While the Stay at Home order is still in place, the good news is it’s very possible to take dogs (and cats) for their walks to keep them on a routine, so long as social distancing is being respected while on that walk and obeying city rules.

With more time at home, pet owners also have a great chance to interact in new ways. Training, for example, can be more thorough, even the basics. And despite the popular saying, it’s quite possible to teach old dogs new tricks with patience. Cats can also be taught tricks, like “shake”. Even basic training, such as litter box training, can be made far easier when at home with pets all day.

While there was concern over human supplies, and there still is some, pet food and supplies are still in stock and available online as well. In the veterinary industry, many practices saw a small uptick in food and prescription sales assumedly due to people wanting to stock-up, but nothing too difficult to handle.

If your pet needs food or medications, you do have a few options. Most veterinarians and pet stores offer online and delivery options for products and supplies.

“We work directly with manufacturers and distributers to get food, medications, and even toys delivered directly to your door. We encourage our clients to use our online pharmacy rather than the big online retailers (like chewy) so you can continue to support your local veterinarian as a business.” said Dr. Ruelle.

Pet stores and vets are considered essential businesses, meaning that pet owners still have access to basic needs for pets of all sizes, species, and ages if they can’t get food and supplies delivered directly to their home.

A popular trend right now is adopting a pet, since this is the perfect time to really interact with them, especially among folks that were already considering getting a pet. There are a few important things to note when it comes to getting a pet during this time, though. With everything that’s going on, veterinary clinics are having to decide what patients require urgent care versus appointments that can and should wait until the shelter-in-place is lifted. The governor has stated not to perform any non-essential surgeries so many veterinarians are postponing these surgeries if they can wait a few weeks.

“If a pet is a young puppy or kitten that hasn’t been fully vaccinated, their booster vaccines are often considered an urgent or essential case,” said Dr. Ruelle. “Puppies and kittens do not have a strong immune system or protection against potential deadly diseases like parvovirus for dogs and leukemia virus for cats. While adult pets that have had their vaccinations on time for several years in a row, are a little more flexible because they have some protective immunity from their previous year’s vaccines.”

She did emphasize, though, that deciding what pets should be seen during this time is done on a case-by-case basis. Because of this, the most important thing to do is talk to your vet and see what needs to be done and when, as well as doing your own research when it comes to having a pet.

It’s also important for new pet owners to note that while these weeks at home are great for training and getting to know your new best friend, it’s also a good time to prepare them for the day that you return to work. Separation anxiety in dogs can be extremely difficult to deal with, from them chewing and swallowing things that aren’t food, to destroying furniture and walls.

A simple way to do this and to get them comfortable alone is to schedule alone time, and to minimize or downplay hello’s and goodbyes with your pet when you leave and return home, as they can incite separation anxiety.

“A simple search on ‘preventing separation anxiety’ will lead you to many great resources for training to minimize that trouble from occurring later,” said Dr. Ruelle. “I recommend dogstardaily.com as a great, free, online training resource that uses only positive-reinforcement based training methods.”

There are also resources online that give step-by-step instructions on what to look out for, how to handle it, and solutions to keep everyone calm and happy.

Vets like Countryside will be open for business throughout the Stay at Home, as pets can still get sick and hurt, and need help just like we do. Be sure to check opening and closing times, since many businesses have adjusted hours, as well as any new procedures in place.

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