Even the Daily Lives of Our Pets Are Impacted Amid COVID-19

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While our lives have been changed due to the novel coronavirus, there’s one population in your household you might have forgotten is facing adjustments too: your pets.

As we stay at home more, either working or finding new activities to fill our time, our furry friends are also figuring out how to handle this new normal. It might be a tag-wagging good time to have extra pets due to fostering and more playtime, but the stress and anxiety we’re feeling may also rub off on your cat or dog.

“Many animals are sensitive to their owners’ anxiety and it can affect them as well,” says Dr. Madhulal Valliyatte, Delaware SPCA’s chief veterinarian. “Changes in household routines—kids at home, parents working, conflict in the home due to togetherness and anxiety, and even another pet brought in through foster or adoption at this time—can cause pets to become more stressed. Just like people, pets need their space and should be kept to a regular routine as much as possible.”

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Fostering animals is more important now than ever with families at home more and the opportunity to free up shelter space while giving animals a real home.


Delaware SPCA was able to send about 54 animals out to foster homes. Not only does this help the staff but the animals’ wellbeing as well.

“An animal offers companionship and comfort during these challenging times. Typically people aren’t home enough to care for a foster animal, but with so many people working remotely, it’s the perfect time to consider fostering. The benefits to fostering aren’t just for the human; fostering has an immeasurable effect on the animal too. In a shelter, dogs and cats are stressed and tired. Living in a home, even temporarily, allows animals’ true colors to come out, making them more adopt-able,” says Valliyatte.

At the Delaware Humane Association, they’ve had over 60 dogs and 60 cats sent to foster homes. Not only does this help the animals live in a compassionate home setting, but it also allows DHA to help more potential pets.

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“If someone is able to foster that frees up a spot for us, so we’re able to take more animals,” says Hannah Jones, DHA’s marketing and communications manager.

Both organizations are also asking people to donate pet food and cat litter, and are holding food drives for people who are financially struggling.

Delaware SPCA’s Pet Food Pantry offers dog and cat food to community members experiencing financial hardship. Those needing assistance can come to the shelter between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. A drive-up service can be arranged.

“We are always looking for donations of new, unopened dog and cat food, as well as cat litter. We have donation bins at PetSmart Christiana and Petco Christiana, or pet food donations may be dropped off at our shelter. At this time, we are not accepting donations of dog beds or blankets,” says Valliyatte.


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DHA has held multiple drive-up food pantry events with much success. The next one will be Thursday, April 9, outside Jay’s Nest at 490 North Market St. in Seaford.

“So far, we’ve been so fortunate to be able to help over 400 households provide food to their pets through our drive-up pet food pantries at our animal care center in Wilmington as well as near our adoption center in Rehoboth Beach,” says Patrick Carroll, Executive Director of DHA. “Through the support of donors, shelter partners, local businesses, and our staff and volunteers, community members received a resource they needed to help provide assistance to them during this difficult time.”

Both Delaware SPCA and DHA are adjusting how they handle adoptions as well, offering appointment only visitation.

Whether you’re bringing a new pet home or are living with the same furry friend, it’s important to give them a similar routine to what they had pre-pandemic life. This is especially true for cats who often time love their solitude.

“Be sure to allow cats to retreat to areas of the home where they can escape any household commotion. Leave cats alone during the day, letting them maintain a regular schedule of napping. Like us, when animals are overtired or stressed, they can get cranky,” says Valliyatte.

With dogs, time outside is still important. But with social distancing, they might be a few more protective measures you take as opposed to before. Especially with walking. Valliyatte recommends walking your dog early in the morning or later in the day when there are fewer people. If you do encounter someone, make sure to keep your distance.

As for all other safety precautions, reschedule those annual check-ups for when it’s a little safer to venture outside. And call ahead to your vet if you have an emergency, many are offering drive-up care.

As for when life goes back to being a little more normal, it might be important to give your pet a few extra cuddles.

“A bigger concern is how the animals will adjust after the pandemic is over and owners return to work,” says Valliyatte.

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