Stuck at home with your pet?

So you are at home, perhaps not able to take Fido out for his usual walks, or let Whiskers out for her usual sniff around the neighbourhood. Every pet owner will be concerned about how they are going to keep them entertained, fill their days and stop them from getting bored. 

Luckily, there are lots of different ways to tire them out and keep their brains engaged, and Charter Vet Catherine Tindale BVetMed MRCVS outlines a few ideas below…

Puzzle feeders are bowls and mats that have different shapes, tunnels and spirals, to make getting kibble out of the bowl more tricky and slower. Our pets have to use their noses and tongues to push the kibble around the bowl and figure out how to get it out so they can eat it. This not only makes meal times more exciting, it pushes them to problem solve, and makes dinner time last longer. There are lots of different sizes and shapes of puzzle feeders out there, or you can make your own with yoghurt pots or pyramids of toilet rolls with the food placed inside. Whatever you use make sure that it is an appropriate size, and sturdy enough, for your pet. 

Playing games in the house is another great way to keep them entertained. For cats this might be a rod with a fur or feather toy at the end that you can swoop through the air, or wriggle along the ground, engaging their natural hunting instinct. Or you could make a castle out of cardboard boxes, with holes cut between them, creating tunnels and climbing areas too. You can change these around remaking the castle in lots of different ways to always keep them guessing. For dogs, teaching them new tricks like sit and stay, or if they have already mastered these, then more complex commands like roll over, or spin. If you have a garden then it’s a great opportunity to work on that recall. Treats are great motivators for learning new things. Some dogs may need higher value treats (like chicken or fish) to convince them to learn, whereas others may only need a few kibbles from their normal food as encouragement. It is important to remember that if you are feeding more treats, especially if pets are not getting as much exercise as they would normally, you should reduce the amount of breakfast and dinner they have to stop them from gaining weight.

Lots of pets love toys and they are a real boredom breaker for them. There are many different types available. Often pets respond better to toys if they are on rotation, meaning that they don’t have access to all of them all the time. So when a toy they haven’t seen for a while comes back, it’s even more exciting. Use lots of different types of toys, keep them interested in different ways, some to chew (but be careful of anything that could damage or fracture teeth), so to solve and others to eat. There are also many toys that you can make at home, for example:

  • plastic bottles with treats inside and some holes cut in them so as they are pushed along with their noses the treats drop out.
  • frozen treats such as ice with sardines or peanut butter inside. (Please make sure there are no ingredients in them that could be harmful)
  • put food inside a cardboard toilet roll holder and scrunch paper into either end, this is particularly good for cats. 
  • fill a paper cup with wet food, suspend it a few inches in the air, to let your cat pounce and jump for it. 
  • Bubbles, these can be made from washing up liquid if you don’t have any specific bubble liquid and are great fun to chase around!