Setting Up Home

Pet care during the coronavirus pandemic: This Dubai vet answers all your questions

Can I take my dog for a walk? Are the vets still open? And how can I keep my pet happy whilst at home? All you animal-related questions answered as stricter regulations are enforced in Dubai to limit the spread of COVID-19

Dog cuddles make a little easier to #stayhome

Staying home has presented us with new challenges requiring out of the box thinking solutions – not least for pet owners. Many of us with cats, dogs and beyond have been taking to social media groups to seek the advice of others in the same position.

Here to help, we asked all your ‘pet care during coronavirus’ related questions to a local vet and found out her expert tips on providing the best care for your furry family members amidst the 24-hour sterilisation programme regulations.

Dr Sara Elliott is the founder and director of veterinary services at the British Veterinary Hospital in Al Wasl.

Vet Sara Elliott answers Dubai residents’ pet care questions as we #stayhome:

man wearing glasses drinking coffee with cat on lap on sofa
What you need to know about caring for your pets as we stay home

If we can’t go for walks, how can I keep my dog active?

Mental exercise can be almost as good as physical exercise for dogs. So work on games to stimulate them or teach them new tricks – use the same training routines that you’ve used before. Look online for ideas of new tricks.

You can also try and reduce boredom and keep them moving by using treats and toys. Try putting their food into special containers so they’ve got to push it around the living room to get their dinner out as opposed to just feeding them in their bowl. Do make sure that you’re not overfeeding them because it’s very easy to start overfeeding them or increase the treats because we’re all bored and we all head for the fridge.

What can I do in place of a walk?

There are people who are putting the lead on the dog and doing a loop around the apartment and walking them two or three times a day just to keep the dog occupied. The dogs might think you’re crazy, but it’s still exercise!

Digestive problems are becoming more common in dogs due to the lack of exercise as their digestion slows down. So even though its fairly boring, a lead walk around the home is important.  

You could also try pushing back the sofa and hitting a ball against the wall – you can paint it again later. That’s a good way for them to exercise in the home and to keep them stimulated and happier.

Dreaming of walking outside again soon

How can I change my dog’s toilet habits if we’re not allowed outside?

This is really difficult as we spend so much time trying to train dogs them to not mess inside and now, we’re trying to reverse that training.

You can use various pee pads for dogs. Ideally, you want to use them in a specific area that you’re happy with so ideally a balcony. And use the same cues you do outside, making sure you praise them for it.

We are very aware that we are going to see problems with dogs regarding this. We will, and already are seeing dogs who are trying to hold off from going to the toilet and ending up with bladder infections and bladder problems so do your best to encourage them to go.

Dubai Police have confirmed that you can take your dog outside for 10-minutes to let them relieve themselves, so make the most of this.

How do I keep my dog as happy as possible inside the house?

Where you can, try to keep their routine the same. If you have set feeding times, stick to those. If you had set walking times, then that is the time to lead walk around your home.

Also, be aware that with a lot of dogs, while they do need the exercise time, they also need their sleep time. Dogs and cats are seeing issues because they’re actually getting fed up of the owners being in the house. We’re seeing behaviour problems because the animals aren’t able to sleep all day if they want to. They have annoying owners who keep waving toys on sticks in front of them.

I know my dog (before 24-hour sterilisation) was getting quite irritated at the extra walks from the kids being at home. She wanted to sleep more than we were allowing her to.  They’re not used to having you at home all day every day stimulating them. And actually, they still need their routine and sleep time. So you should try to ignore them for part of the day when you’re working from home.

Need inspiration on creating a happy home? Here’s our guide to designing a pet paradise for your pooch or kitten.

Dog that's eaten the couch
It’s normal for dogs to exhibit behaviour problems at this time

Are vets still open in Dubai?

Vets are an essential service and we’re still open.

However, we’re making sure that we’re social distancing. At the British Veterinary Hospital, we are offering complimentary pet taxis to bring pets in, we just bring the pet in not the owner. We transfer the pet at the main entrance to the building, so our staff are not entering your building in any way. They’re disinfecting the cage and bringing the pet in.

We will do the consultation with the owner at the clinic over the phone or WhatsApp – pictures videos. We use every means we can to make sure the owners are on board with what we’re doing, then the pet will be dropped back after the treatment.

If people are coming to see us, they do need to get a permit. When you come in we will receive the pet in the carpark, we’re not allowing owners to enter the building. We will discuss with (at appropriate social distance) your concerns.

Whatever needs to be done regarding the treatment will be done and then we will bring your pet back out to you. All of this is making sure that we are abiding by the social distancing guidelines. Any product that’s coming to you from our building has been disinfected before coming out. And everyone working at the vets are using the PPE.

Pets are not able to carry coronavirus inside them

Can I catch coronavirus from my pets?

No. There is zero evidence for pets transferring COVID-19. Unless someone with the virus coughs or sneezes onto your animal and then you touch them – transferring it to your mouth. The pet can not carry it inside them and transfer it to you.

Therefore it will be important, that once you are allowed with your pet don’t allow others to stroke them, we’re going to need to maintain social distancing.

What are the health concerns I should be looking out for in my pet?

We are seeing more digestive issues from over feeding treats, urinary tract issues and behavioural concerns. But we are mostly seeing normal problems continue.

Owners should keep on top of their pet’s vaccinations – making sure they’re up to date because when pets are allowed out they will be at danger of getting their diseases. Vaccinations are especially important if you are planning on travelling with your animal once this over.

If you are thinking of relocating your pet post-coronavirus, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it

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