May 06, 2020 Pets and Family

Essential Needs for Pets During a Pandemic

Two boxers sit in front of a room of torn up toilet paper

Essential Needs for Pets During a Pandemic

When things get tough in life, we have this deep urge to cut everything back to the bare essentials. Tough seems to be a good description for the world we are currently inhabiting, with many of us thinking about the essentials in our lives. Maslow defines the essential physiologic needs of human as food, water, shelter, clothes, sleep and novelty. Since pets are considered members of the family, are their needs the same and how can we help meet their needs during tough times?


Unprecedented numbers of pet families are shopping for pet food and treats on websites instead of their local pet shop. Like many online delivery services, the pet food suppliers are having difficulty keeping up with demand. Be sure you place your order well in advance to avoid feeding your pet a can of tuna fish or some rice and steak. Abrupt diet changes can result in an upset tummy. No one wants to make a trip to the emergency room right now for an upset tummy that could have been avoided.


Adjusting your feeding method is one technique to add something new to your pet’s daily routine. Consider freezing a feeding toy filled with peanut butter, canned dog food or moistened kibble. As it thaws, your dog can gnaw or lick the contents for entertainment and nutrition.

As a family project, you could create a snuffle mat for feeding your pet. A snuffle mat looks like a bad 1970’s shag rug. The fabric tufts hold kibble and your pet snuffles in the mat to get his dinner. There are a variety of DIY snuffle mats. Here are a series of videos on how snuffle mats work and how to make one.


Dogs typically drink plenty of water. Cats often drink very little water, and their limited water consumption may exacerbate bladder problems. Since many cats like to drink from a dripping faucet, consider a fountain. Who knows, the sound of running water might be a soothing addition to your daily soundtrack.


The news out of animal shelters has been one of the most uplifting stories of the pandemic. In their efforts to increase social distancing, many shelters have limited their services during the pandemic. To fill this void and increase the novelty in their own homes, a record number of families have taken in a shelter dog or cat providing essential care to formerly homeless pets. Let’s hope that is one pandemic trend that continues long after these tough times are over.


Having your pet snuggled into bed with you, may promote a better night’s sleep. However, if you are sick, experts recommend quarantining yourself away from family members, and the family member include the dog, cat and ferret.


The Maslow list of essential needs translates pretty well to pets, except for clothing. While clothing is not essential for pets, dressing your pet can be fun. If retail therapy via the internet pet clothing department meets your need for novelty, then by all means buy the pastel rubber boots for your dog or a spring hat for your cat.

In tough times or good times, our pets are essential to our well-being. I think Maslow forgot them on his list!

Tags: cats, dogs, pandemic, SARS-CoV-2,

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