Every year around this time, I ignore the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get a flu vaccination. A fear of needles paralyzes me, and the shot remains the recommended method, over the nasal spray, for people my age.
A recent bout with a stomach virus has me rethinking my stance. I was horribly sick for about four days, and during that time my dogs went from bored to stir-crazy. Spot and Dolly usually go with the flow, but they simply needed more activity and amusement than I could provide from my prone position on the couch.
Once I could think clearly again, I came up with the following five ways to keep your dogs happy if you get sick with the flu or another illness. I plan to put them in play the next time I come down with something.
1. Request extra visits from your dog walker
While you may be tempted to cancel regular appointments with your dog walker — you are home, after all — don’t make that call. In fact, ask for extra visits during the day until you feel better. That way, your pups get the exercise they need and you don’t risk running into your neighbors while feeling miserable and wearing your most embarrassing pair of pajamas.
I did not have a dog walker at the ready during my recent illness, but I do now after more than a few neighbors smirked at my bright pink PJs featuring tiny Scottish Terriers. They were a gift!
2. Turn on DOGTV
Pet parents in San Diego, California, already have cable access to the recently launched TV channel for dogs. The rest of us can subscribe to online streaming if we get sick.
According to the DOGTV website, programming throughout a given day matches a dog’s daily cycle and helps prevent mental fatigue, depression, and boredom. Spot and Dolly were captivated when I played them the above example of a stimulation segment.
3. Play games without getting up
If you have the energy, toss the ball or play tug from your prone position. I got strategic with my throws while I was ill, making sure I threw the ball hard enough to reach the stairs and tumble down. The steps tired out Spot and Dolly quicker than usual.
4. Put out an interactive toy
I have been considering buying an interactive toy that also dispenses treats, and now I have an excellent reason: Such a toy will help keep the pups occupied the next time I get sick. The Magic Dog Toy from the Company of Animals looks like a winner. Bonus: The plastic used to make the toy does not contain BPA. (Read Michael Leaverton’s recent story about BPA in dog products if you don’t know why that’s such a selling point.)
5. Send your dogs to Grandma’s house
During my recent bout with a stomach virus, I was thisclose to calling my mom and asking her to pick up Spot and Dolly for an extended stay. The sounds of projectile vomiting can unnerve even the bravest of dogs, and mine run and hide at the first buzz of a fly. But I would start to feel better and wanted a warm pup at my feet. Looking back, I should have sent them to Grandma’s house the first day and suffered through alone.
If you do get sick and don’t feel up to fulfilling your duties as a pet parent, consider asking a family member or friend to take your dogs for a few days.
Let’s hear from you, readers. If you get sick, how do you keep your dogs happy? Please share any experiences and advice you have in the comments!