Should We Stock Up On Dog Supplies Now? We Asked A Vet And A PetSmart Assistant Store Leader

Woman wearing a protective mask is walking alone with a dog outdoors because of the corona virus pandemic covid-19

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For many people, stockpiling supplies has become as much of a defense against COVID-19 as wearing masks and washing hands. Things like toilet paper, rice, and bread have been tough to find in many stores.

But what about for our canine companions? Should we be stocking up on items for them during these uncertain times? Have people been rushing pet stores to hoard?

Dr. Dana Varble, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer for the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC), and Sarah Gawel, PetSmart Assistant Store Leader, shared their opinions and experiences with DogTime.

Should We Stockpile Supplies For Our Dogs?

AMANDA: In these times of shelter-in-place, many humans are stocking up on essentials like toilet paper. But what about for our dogs?

DR. VARBLE: Luckily, dog food is easy to stock up on! That’s the first thing I would recommend. Have two weeks of your dog’s preferred canned and/or dry food at home, just in case you can’t get to the store.

My pets are a bit spoiled and also have two weeks of treats at home as well. Also, if your dog is on medication, please make sure you have at least two weeks of medications.

SARAH: Pets stores are labeled as an essential business. So even in times of crisis, like today, they still remain open for any of your pet’s needs.

Should you make sure you have food and medical supplies to last you for a few days in case you are unable to get out? Sure! However, there is no need to run out to the store and panic buy.

Even if you feel ill in times like now, which is, unfortunately, a very real possibility, the option of having supplies sent to your house from pet businesses is very popular. And supplies, in my experience, generally come in two to three business days, which is relatively quick.

By not feeling the pressure and need to stock up and panic buy, there are more supplies overall for pets in need. In short, less panic buying means more supplies for all.

Are People Hoarding Pet Supplies?

Newer alone when you have dog

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AMANDA: It makes sense to have a bit stored in case it’s difficult to go somewhere without massive stockpiling. Sarah, have you seen a lot of hoarding in your stores?

SARAH: During the week preceding the Illinois shelter-in-place order, as well as the few days leading up to the enactment of the order, there was definitely more traffic in our stores. Many people were out buying the foods and products they normally use, in bulk.

Others were scrambling to buy things, knowing people were stocking up and hoping to get their products just in case bulk shoppers purchased in abundance and left none for when others just needed to shop for their product like normal.

I believe a lot of the panic for bulk buying and stocking up was because pet supplies were not specifically deemed essential, originally. Therefore, many did not realize that we’re in the same category as grocery stores, and they worried we may close, and that they’d have no option to get any supplies they may need, in turn.

Now that the shelter-in-place order has been enacted, traffic has definitely been lighter.

Whether this is because individuals realize we have remained open and will be here if they need anything, so they don’t need to rush out; or because they’re being more cautious with the shelter-in-place order enacted, so they’re not going out; or because they panic-bought and stocked up for a while, I will never know. But traffic definitely has decreased recently.

What Kinds Of Supplies Should Dog Parents Have?

AMANDA: What kind of things do you think we should have on-hand, from basic supplies to first-aid items?

DR. VARBLE: I always think it is good to have some very basic first-aid items, just in case. One-inch medical tape, five or so gauze squares, and some non-adhesive bandage like Vetwrap can be very helpful, if an injury occurs, to do a temporary bandage for the ride to the veterinarian or emergency vet.

Always be very, very careful that bandages are never too tight, as they can cause an injury.

Also, for dogs, it is always a good idea to have some styptic powder in the house, in case a nail gets injured or cut too short to control bleeding! Remember that powder is only for nails that are bleeding, not other wounds.

AMANDA: Do we need to be concerned about upping our dogs’ immunity with vitamins, cutting back on treats, changing the main feed, etc.?

DR. VARBLE: Our dogs are more stressed too with all the changes at home these days. Now is not a good time to introduce any new foods, change food, or add anything to their diets. Dogs love routines, and any routine they had has already changed!

What Should We Do Differently For Our Dogs?

Portrait of a man walking his dog down an alley in spring, wearing a home made face mask.

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AMANDA: Do you have any tips for keeping our dogs engaged and happy during these strange times when their humans are home all day and they can’t go to all the same places they usually do? Is there anything we should be using this time to do with them?

DR. VARBLE: This would be a great time to get certified in Pet CPR! You can find more information here.

SARAH: I have a few tips that I even use with my own dogs!

  • Make sure to keep your dogs active and stimulated. Dogs can feel depressed, too! Work on obedience training, teach them a new trick (“stay,” “leave it,” “go to your place,” “roll over,” “shake”). I’m sure there are great instructional articles or videos on the internet. And if you are currently in training, reach out to your trainer for some great ideas!
  • Play some fun games with your dog, like hide-and-seek (this one is fun for kids, too). Have your kids hide and try to have the dog find them. Or hide a treat and help your dog try to find it.
  • Bathe and/or brush your dog at home, and trim their nails if you’re comfortable doing so. Dogs who sleep a lot are often not tired but depressed!
  • Make sure your dog gets enough exercise! Most of the time, when dogs get into trouble, it’s because they are trying to get rid of their excess energy or they haven’t used up all their mental energy yet. Digging, barking, and chewing are perfect examples of this. Take your dog for an extra walk or play fetch in the yard with them. Buy or make some toys that your dog has to work at to get a reward. Puzzle toys, working with your dog on a command, and making an obstacle course your dog has to work through are great options to burn off some mental energy! Some of my favorite puzzle toys are from Starmark and Kong, but you can also make your own! Be creative; it will keep you busy while making the toy and keep them busy while they are enjoying it!
  • Make sure you don’t spend the entire day with your dog! This is extremely important with puppies, too. I have noticed an increase in people bringing puppies home during this period since they’ll be at home and can take care of them. Spending all day with a new dog, or even a dog you’ve had who’s not used to you being home all day, every day is asking for issues! Many dogs grow accustomed to having someone there with them at all times. When people get back to work and the dog goes back to being alone for portions of the day, it can start issues such as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can include a whole range of issues, from depression to barking and whining, to being destructive. So, every day, leave your dog alone for just a little bit of time, whether it be while you’re walking around the block, enjoying the weather in your yard, taking a nap in a separate area of your house from the dog(s), or picking up an essential item from the store. It doesn’t have to be a super long time away from your dog. But don’t make it a quick minute or two, either!

AMANDA: Thank you very much to both of you for your extremely valuable advice and insight during these difficult times!

Are you stocking up on any dog supplies? What do you think pet parents should do with the extra time at home? Let us know in the comments below!

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