Caring for Pets During COVID-19 Pandemic

News of a dog testing “weak positive” in China nearly became a nightmare for dog lovers around the world. Pets being infected by COVID-19 would produce an unpredictable future for pet owners. Soon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that there is no evidence that dogs could get infected by the virus. The dog had contamination in the mouth and nose from his pet owner, who was COVID-19 positive, but after being quarantined he was found to be negative of the virus. The case is different in cats. Only recently, CNN has reported that cats may be infected and may also infect one another. However, this is nothing to worry about since they do not get sick.

Still, this incidence was a pinch for pet owners. In the on-going health crisis, pets should not be left behind. As doctors, nurses, and health workers are society’s pillars of defense, pet owners are pets’ first line of defense. As soon as Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a pandemic, a haunting idea has struck many people that this health crisis will change a lot of things in the world today whether this would be government responsibility and social spending, or personal hygiene and preparedness.

Although the CDC and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have declared that dogs cannot contract and become sick with COVID-19 or spread the virus, pet owners should not let their guards down. A more recent finding suggests that cats can be infected by the virus.

Pet owners are the first line of defense for pets. Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, vice president of ASPCA Shelter Medicine Services, has mentioned in Philanthropy New York. True enough, pet owners are like parents who have to monitor and to care for the physical and emotional well-being of their beloved. There may be no evidence that cats and dogs can be infected with COVID-19, but there is scientific basis on the notion that pets can experience the same “down” feeling that people do when they are confined inside the house due to restricted outdoor movement and to a disruption of everyday routine. This “down” feeling is a result of the lack of physical activities and entertainment. Emotional well-being is at risk. Because of this, there is a danger that pets may experience the lack of appetite or interest.

A preparedness plan for the household should involve the health and safety of pets. Every pet owner should keep in mind that pets will primarily rely on them. Setting this pet preparedness plan is simple but should be done in an organized manner.

First of all, calm down and write things that you should do. Panicking will do no good and will only create confusion. Remember the last time that there was drama in your home and your pet was there to watch? Or the last time that you got jumped and your dog/cat gave you that ‘oh-you-unfortunate-soul’ look? Pets can feel tension. And this could stress them. Do both of yourselves a favor and stay cool. Write down important things that you should do to keep the household running, along with the supplies that you have to buy for your pet. Which leads us to the next point.

Supplies. Make sure to have a healthy supply of your pet’s food, treats, and hygiene needs that are at most worth three weeks. Do not hoard. Think of other pets that would also need those supplies. When selecting food and other essentials, remember to select the most necessary like cat food or dog food. Buy some treats, but cut down on them a little. If you run out of supplies, there are online stores that sell essential pet products.

Exercise and activities. Walk the dog around the yard or play fetch with him. Make your cat chase some colorful balls, or let him scratch your old unused fuzzy clothes. Make a new routine for your pets. One that comprises physical activities and bonding. This will keep them entertained while outdoor movement is restricted. This also helps maintain their emotional well-being.

Check on the vaccines. Are the vaccines updated? If not, it’s best to check with the vet.

Identification. During this period, it is also best to ensure that your pet has a collar which can easily be identified. Tags and other forms of identification for pets should also be at the ready. Tags and ID’s should have the pet’s name, address, pet owner contact number, and other essential details.

Wash your hands. Current research suggests that dogs cannot be infected by
COVID-19; however, the virus can stick to their fur. Contamination may occur in their mouth or nose. It is best to practice washing your hands before and after you had direct contact with dogs. Even when preparing their food and cleaning after, wash your hands. Better safe than sorry. Wear a face mask if you are sick or under medical examination for COVID-19. As much as possible, avoid direct contact with your pets in the meantime.

Back-up. In the case that you, the pet owner, get sick or become hospitalized, someone should take the responsibility of looking after the pet. This could be a family member or a trusted friend nearby. It’s best to ask someone nearby to look after the pet, so that outdoor movement can still be limited.