Whether your country has implemented a lockdown, or you are self-isolating or you are in quarantine, it is likely that you are worried about your pets and how to care for them during this time. Firstly think about stocking up on pet supplies, especially if there’s a chance that you may not be able to leave home for a while. These supplies include pet food, medication, cat litter, doggy treats, toys and games. If you own animals like hamsters or rabbits that eat vegetables, be sure to have enough fresh produce available, either in your backyard garden or through online delivery or the local community farm. Also remember to stock up on cleaning supplies. This would also be a good time to take your pet to the vet to get all vaccinations, if you haven’t been quarantined yet.
Use this time to connect with your pets
Remember that this quarantine may be tough on your pets and can trigger stress or anxiety in them to be in quarantine with you. If you live in an apartment and don’t have an enclosed backyard that they can safely roam about in, then being stuck inside may cause some distress. Use this time to cuddle with them and spend quality time with them. Find creative ways to connect with your pet and arrange games for them to play.
USA.today has some great ideas to entertain and keep your pets engaged like a DIY scavenger hunt where you can hide treats around the house, or in a fenced yard and let them hunt for it. You can also drop a cat treat inside a small cup or vessel which your cat can’t get their face into and they have to paw at it for a while to get it out. You can also give your cats big empty boxes to play in.
You could also play fetch with your dog and get them to fetch things for you like rolled-up socks or empty toilet rolls. You can also use an old towel or any thick cloth you don’t need to strike up a game of tug of war which dogs love.
Walking your dog while social distancing
As all pet owners know, walking your dog is one of the most essential ways to keep them healthy. Unless you are in complete lockdown or quarantined, take time out to walk your dog by maintaining the CDC-recommended six feet of distance from others. Don’t stay out for longer than is necessary and be sure not to let anyone pet your dog. Be sure to wear a mask while going outside. It’s also a good idea to wipe down your dog’s paws and snout with some cruelty-free wipes after walks. Going for walks will help raise your spirits and your dogs too.
Worried about your pets getting infected?
A tiger was recently found to have tested positive for Sars-Cov-2 in Bronx and last month a dog in China was quarantined after testing a weak positive for coronavirus, causing many to worry. Many are following an unhealthy trend of dropping off their pets at the shelter which is completely unnecessary. Another unhealthy trend is seen with picture circulating on the internet of pets wearing masks. This is only a waste of the mask which is in a valuable commodity at this time and should not be used unnecessarily.
Experts say currently there are no clear evidence that dogs can get infected, get sick or spread the disease. The owner of the dog was infected, and the tiger had a caretaker who was infected and hence it is considered that it was a human to animal infection. All the positive tested cases happened only in the rare case where the owner is infected and have had close contact with the pets like kissing them etc. The risk of a pet contracting the virus is low and are unlikely to carry the virus around infecting other humans.
Globally, only two dogs and two cats have tested positive for the virus, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). “Over 1 million human cases at this point worldwide and we’ve only seen four domestic animals test positive so far worldwide, so the risk is very minimal [for COVID-19] to get to pets,” says William Sander, assistant professor of preventive medicine and public health, also at the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine.
How to be careful
If your family is healthy, and your pets are at home and and don’t often come into contact with other animals, they are unlikely to be at risk. Follow the same protocols with them as you would do with humans during quarantine. Wash your hands with soap and water after contact to minimize risk of spreading any disease and not just novel coronavirus. This should by default be practised by anyone handling or playing with their pets. The only risk of spreading is if someone who is infected sneezes or coughs on them and somebody immediatley touches them. Experts say the fur being porous and fibrous wont allow the virus to stay long like on other smooth surfaces and transmission is low.
If you are showing symptoms then quarantine yourself and make sure you have someone take care of your pet as It wouldn’t do good to get them sick as well. All in all, use this time to deepen your bond with your pets as they are comforting companions to get your through this time. Look after them and make sure they are well exercised and happy.