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COVID-19 has proven to be an unprecedented pandemic, a humanitarian crisis. It has forced governments to announce blanket lockdowns on countries, affecting economies and sustenance of people. 

As the global community grapples and tries to come to terms with the novel coronavirus pandemic, observing particular precautions have become the new norm. From socially distancing ourselves to washing our hands frequently, we have modified our ways and life to contain further spread of this deadly virus.

For pet owners, a common concern is how to care for their pets amid compulsory quarantine and self-isolation rules. How do you get your pets to exercise? How do you entertain your pets at home?

Tips to Take Care of Your Pets during Coronavirus Pandemic

Walking your Pets amid the outbreak

Pets need regular exercise. Take your four-legged friend outside for a walk, but practise social distancing. Avoid crowded places and gatherings altogether. If possible, maintain a safe distance of two-three meters from people.

Importantly, don’t let your pet sniff or eat anything that is lying on the ground. Besides the current outbreak, this rule applies to other times and situations as well. It will help to prevent your dog from contracting any bacteria, virus, or other toxic substances. Don’t touch any foreign surface unnecessarily and wash your dog’s paws once home.

However, now that social distancing and compulsory quarantine have become essential to avert further transmission of the virus, you should organize indoor exercise sessions for your furry friend.

Alternatives to exercising outside

You can arrange indoor workouts for your pets. Have them search for toys or play ‘fetch’ at home. Create an obstacle path for your pet. Make sure to keep a treat to lead your pets to the finish line. Play hide-and-seek at home. You can also try to hide dog treats inside a puzzle game. However, make sure you aren’t treating them to anything sugary or food that is meant for humans.

Managing your Pets while working from home

In all probability, your pets are happy to see your work from home. The mere presence is enough to bring them joy. Once it sees you invested in your work, it is likely not to bother you. If your pet is hyperactive, indulge in a short interaction or play session before resuming work again.

Keeping your Pets entertained at home

Instead of walking your dogs & cats outdoors, you can keep it entertained and occupied at home as well. Buy your furry friend toys containing treats inside. Often, human interaction can substitute for long walks outside. That being said, you should keep a tab on your pet’s kilos every week to monitor any drastic weight loss or gain.

You’d do well to cut down on its food intake by a small margin during this period of socially distancing yourself from others.

Keeping your Pets healthy, physically and mentally

It depends on the breed and size of your pet. Physical activity needs for smaller dogs and cats are usually less as compared to their bigger peers. It is the quality of interaction or play that matters more than the quantity. Quality interactions, including obedience and command games, playing, sniffing, and searching, can be helpful.

Is it important to do anything differently?

No, you aren’t required to do anything differently. Only make sure you are:

  • Practicing good hygiene at all times
  • Keeping your house clean
  • Washing your hands thoroughly after petting your pets
  • Keeping your pet clean at all times; giving it a good bath once-twice a week

General advice for Pet owners

Cook your pet’s food thoroughly, particularly if you have them following a raw or canned diet. That is because cooking, at high temperatures, kills the virus, bacteria, and other toxins. Importantly, serve the food right after cooking and make sure your dog finishes it. Remember that when left uncovered in the open, foods’ bacteria count increases over time.

Wash their water and food bowls with a detergent.

If your pet is unwell, take it to a vet. Stay up-to-date with all the vaccinations, in keeping with the vet’s recommendations. Further, don’t forget to keep a check on your pet’s weight; you should try to keep him in optimal shape – neither thin, nor fat.

Now that all of you know about several ways of taking care of pets during the COVID-19 pandemic, let’s move on to FAQs of owners regarding Coronavirus and Pets.

The internet is awash with misinformation and rumours that don’t seem to settle down. Whether pets can transmit the novel coronavirus or not remains one such topic of contention. Also, that is why we have listed some of the most pertinent questions with the attempt to throw light on this subject, help pet owners get clarity, and importantly, nip speculation in the bud.

It all began when a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. Suddenly, pets started to feature in all coronavirus-related conversations, getting the alarm bells ringing that our furry friends might become a part of the novel coronavirus’s transmission chain.

However, to date, several questions remain unanswered.

From the fact sheet that was released by the concerned authorities in Hong Kong, it was revealed that the Pomeranian had a “low level” infection that was possibly a result of transmission from humans to animals. Experts have also advised putting pets – living with COVID-19-infected owners – under quarantine for the sake of public health.

Here, We are going to answer the FAQs by Owners related to Coronavirus and Pets.

COVID-19: FAQs FOR PET OWNERS

Note: The information presented here stands up-to-date as of April 1, 2020.

Can pets get COVID-19?

As of now, experts have maintained that it’s improbable. According to the World Health Organisation, no evidence currently can suggest that pets can get infected with the novel coronavirus. The CDC goes a step ahead and states that companion animals have no role to play in the transmission of the virus.

If this is true, how has a dog tested positive in Hong Kong?

The canine patient came in contact with the owner infected with COVID-19, who, in all probability, was shedding the virus. It purportedly resulted in the virus getting lodged in the pet’s nose. The dog, a 17-year old Pomeranian, tested COVID-19 positive for over a week, thereby fueling speculation that it was already suffering from a minor infection that was likely due to human-to-animal transmission.

The dog was released from quarantine and died a few days later. Authorities believe that death was more likely to be related to other co-morbidity and not the virus.

As of date, experts continue to believe the risk of animal-to-human transmission to be negligible vis-à-vis human-to-human transmission.

But could pets serve as a conduit for the infection?

Unfortunately, yes. An infected pet-owner may contaminate the animal (through mucous or respiratory droplets released by coughing or sneezing). Then another individual touches the pet and gets infected with the virus. However, experts also consider the likelihood of such transmission to be negligible.

Nonetheless, like humans, animals that come in close contact with infected individuals should be isolated from other animals (that are quarantined) and people.

If I am infected with COVID-19, is there any particular precaution that I should take while trying to protect my pet?

To begin with, understand that your pet is at minimal risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. It follows that you need not take special precautions to protect the canine. However, it is also crucial to remember that should your pet always live amid a virus-infested environment; it could have the virus on it. That is how it can serve as a conduit for the infection.

Therefore, the CDC recommends that you isolate and distance yourself from your pet, just like you’d distance yourself from people. Don’t let your pets snuggle up to you, or kiss and lick you for that matter. Limit interaction as much as possible. Wear a face mask and wash your hands thoroughly if you have to come close to the animal.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for pets (dogs and cats)?

At this point, there is no vaccination for COVID-19, neither pets nor humans.

Can my pet wear a face mask?

It should not. It doesn’t help to stop transmission. On the contrary, it may cause breathing difficulties.

My pet has become ill after coming in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19. What do I do?

Contact the vet before taking your dog to the clinic. Tell the vet about specific symptoms of your pet’s illness and that it had come in contact with a COVID-19 patient. Alerting the clinic authorities in advance will help them better prepare for the admittance of your dog and creating an isolation ward for it.

However, remember that there is no evidence currently to support that pets can become infected with the novel coronavirus nor any proof of animals being able to transmit the virus to human beings.

FAQs About Coronavirus and Pets

Can humans pass on the virus to pets?

The virus only spreads from humans to humans. At this point, no research evinces human to animal transmission. Samples collected from the dog in Hong Kong had a negligible viral presence. With no other clinical symptoms of a disease, this did not reveal much.

However, dogs and cats are mammals as well, with the same receptors as humans. Theoretically speaking, the virus can attach itself to the receptors on the animal’s body; but there is no evidence to suggest that it can enter into the cells and multiply. That being said, owners infected with COVID-19 must stay away from pets.

Wash your hands thoroughly; don’t allow them to kiss or lick your face. That’s because should the virus be present in secretions and fluids; this is the only way it could be spread to your pet if there is any chance of transmission, that is.

Should pets, belonging to owners who have tested positive for COVID-19, be tested?

That is not the top priority at this point, considering no research currently suggests any possibility of human to animal transmission. However, if there are any more cases like the Pomeranian in Hong Kong, experts would consider this and do their due diligence.

Can my pet serve as the storehouse for the virus and possibly transmit it to me at a later date?

Yes, they can serve as probable storehouses of the virus, but only if they end up getting infected. Fortunately, there has been no evidence to suggest anything along such lines as of now. In case they are infected, they would have to be dealt with in the way human carriers of the virus are being dealt with right now. Just like hospitals for us, vet healthcare facilities would need to prepare adequately for the situation.

Do I put my pet under quarantine as well?

In case the situation arises, pets would need to be put under quarantine at a dedicated healthcare facility. You can also approach a pet day-care facility or a shelter, for that matter. If your pet were to carry the novel virus but wasn’t sick, you can quarantine it at home as well. In that case, you should check your contact with them.

Use a mask and wash your hands properly every time you enter the room to give it food. Keep your furry friend in a place away from other members of the house.

If I have family members – some quarantined, others not – living under the same roof, can my pet visit them?

Nothing can beat caution at this stage. Make sure you keep your pet away from all family members in case some have been quarantined.

Can I allow my dog to socialize with other pets?

You should not, for the sake of caution. As with general rules of social distancing, it is wise to limit all types of contact right now. Think about it this way: if people should not gather in groups, so shouldn’t pets.

Is there any advice on how we can take care of our pets in this situation?

Make sure to include your pets in any preparedness planning. In case you contract the virus and need to be quarantined, ensure you stock on at least two weeks of pet food. Also, don’t forget non-food essentials such as poop bags. Inform your neighbors about your condition, and keep them in the know of any specific instruction related to walking, feeding, medications, and surgeries of your pet. It is good to be prepared beforehand.

Conclusion

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed our lives. While we are not very happy about it, our pets have different thoughts about the same. They are quite happy as everyone is working from home which gives them the opportunity to be with us for all day long. Our pets don’t have to be waiting the whole day to see us. Anyway, this is a difficult time and we have to ensure good health for both us and our pets.

Please make sure to follow all the precautions to keep your pets safe and healthy during this pandemic. Avoid going out and try to have fun indoors. With this article we want to clear all your doubts regarding coronavirus and pets. Because, precaution is better than cure.

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