How to care for your pets if you’re in isolation

Published on 13 February 2022

As more and more Victorians face the threat of self-isolation – from having COVID-19 or as a close contact – it’s important to plan ahead so that you and your pets are fully prepared with what you need in self-isolation.

Current health advice from the Victorian Government states that ‘If you are in self-quarantine or self-isolation you must not leave your home, even to take your dog for a walk.’ This can be tricky for anyone with active pups who might need to keep them inside for 7-14 days – or longer.

That’s why we’ve pulled together some helpful tips to help you prepare for the possibility that you might be in isolation for a number days – and to how you can keep your pets happy if they’re suddenly spending a lot more time together than usual.

Be prepared!

If you suddenly need to isolate – make sure you have two weeks’ worth of food for your pet, including any medications they may need. By preparing an isolation stock, you’ll be ready to isolate immediately and this will give you time to order more food or essentials if you need. To stock up on food, treats and essentials (like litter trays and litter) head to our shop and grab what you need today! Every dollar you spend in our RSPCA shop supports our important work for animals.

Share pet details

If your pet needs to go to the vet whilst you’re in isolation, reach out to a neighbour, friend or family member to see if they are around should you need them to take your furry companion to the vet. It can be helpful to list your vet’s best contact number and information so you can easily pass this onto your contact. You can also always ring your vet to ask for advice. They will be able to work with you to ensure your pet receives the care they need while keeping their staff safe from COVID-19 infection.

Nominate a walking buddy!

If you can, nominate a friend, family member or neighbour who could take your dog for a walk while you isolate. It’s good to tee up a contact before you get into isolation so you can have your exchange planned out to be as safe as possible. Always make sure you’re wearing a mask and stay inside while your contact collects your dog for their walk. To read the complete list of how to arrange for someone to safely pick up your pup while you isolate, you can head to coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Enrichment toys are essential

For any days where your walking buddy can’t take your pup, it’s important to keep your energic dog mentally stimulated. Slow feeding toys, like a Kong, are great for making breakfast and dinner a little more challenging. Feeding puzzles like our Wobble Bowl, Tornado Blue or Dog Worker (for pups up for a harder challenge) are perfect for keeping your dog busy, stimulated and relaxed. For any pups that might be anxious with their daily routines changing in isolation, a Lickimat is a great way to keep them relaxed and occupied!

And don’t forget about the kitties – we have plenty of enrichment toys like our Puzzle & Play Buggin Out for cats to help keep them occupied, especially if they’re not used to having everyone home all day (for multiple days).

Try and keep your cat inside

Keeping your cat safe at home will avoid risks to them such as traffic accidents, fights with other cats and injury by dogs. If your cat is injured and requires veterinary treatment, this may put you and veterinary staff at risk of virus spread, which could have been avoided.

If your cat roams and you cannot contain them to your property even now, make sure they are wearing a collar and tag with your current contact details, and minimise direct physical contact with them.

Some cats visit houses and people other than their own family for food and/or attention. This is not ideal, particularly at a time like this. If you have a cat other than your own visit you, we advise anyone (whether you are in self-isolation or not) that if the visiting cat has a collar and tag, please do not feed the cat if they look in good condition. If the cat appears hungry, underweight and/or sick, then do consider feeding the cat by leaving food outside and trying to contact the owner or the local vet or animal care organisation if the owner cannot be contacted or there is no collar and tag on the cat.

Hide and seek

Remember how exhilarating it was to play hide and seek as a child? Dogs love it too! Dogs have a childlike curiosity and keen sense of smell that makes them excellent hide and seek players. Dot their favourite treats around the house and let them use their nose to hunt out the delicious prize. Not only will your dog gain some extra exercise with this activity, using their noses releases a big hit of dopamine, which makes them happy. You can also play this guy by hiding their favourite toy, or even you! Increase the level of entertainment over time by making the hiding spots more difficult.

Inside agility

You don’t need a big backyard or fancy equipment to create your very own agility course at home. Just use safe furniture like sofas, pillows and drink bottles to create a physically and mentally challenging path for your dog (or food motivated and energic cat) to navigate.

Target Training

Spending more time at home has its benefits, namely being able to spend more time with our pets. If you have been considering target training and have a bit more time on your hands, now is the perfect time to do it. Target training is teaching your dog to touch a target, often using a clicker as a prompt. It builds on dogs’ naturally curiosity by rewarding them for investigating the specified target repeatedly, until they can do it on command without a reward.

Target training opens up endless possibilities to teach your dog a whole host of nifty tricks. It’s particularly useful for high energy dogs who are begging for their intelligence to be utilised.

Although these tips are designed to help you and your pets settle as best as you can in isolation, ensure you always follow health advice distributed by the Victorian Government at coronavirus.vic.gov.au

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