Keeping your pets healthy and safe during COVID-19
As people across the globe are taking necessary precautionary measures to safeguard themselves from the deadly coronavirus, there is little known about what ought to be done to ensure the well-being of our four-legged furry friends.
The current body of knowledge about the disease indicates that dogs and cats do not seem to act as vectors for the coronavirus.
What does the World Health Organisation (WHO) say
The World Health Organization (WHO) was previously convinced that cats and dogs couldn't get infected by SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It even had that point listed on its myth-buster web page.
But now the agency isn't so sure after a report of a dog that tested positive in Hong Kong after remaining with its owners who had COVID-19. Fortunately for the dog, it didn't have any clinical signs of the disease. But meanwhile, pet health companies including Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS) and Heska (NASDAQ:HSKA) had been working on developing tests for companion animals that may be affected by COVID-19.
While the dog tested positive for the virus, it didn't have a measurable amount antibodies to the virus, but that may be because the virus was cleared so quickly that the dog's immune system didn't have a chance to develop an antibody response.
On its website, the WHO noted that "there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19."
Our pets are beloved family members, and vital parts of our households. So it's only natural that we want to know how coronavirus could affect them. But, can cats and dogs get Covid-19? Should pets be kept inside? Are animals at risk from the virus? And could our pets be implicated in the global spread?
Can you catch coronavirus from your pet?
The World Health Organisation issued updated information on Thursday 13th March saying: "At present there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can spread coronavirus or indeed be infected with it in the same way as humans."
Can the virus be spread from touching animals?
To avoid any risk of your dog or cat carrying the virus on its fur, the World Organisation for Animal Health advises hand washing before and after being around animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.
Social-distancing is key here as it's good to avoid stroking other people's pets during this current situation.
Will I be able to take my dog for a walk?
At the moment during the period of social-distancing, yes you can still walk your dog as long as you are at least two metres away from another person and their dog. Give your pets as much exercise whilst you can during this period of NO LOCKDOWN.
Should I restrict my cat from going outside?
For now, still allow your cat to roam outside freely, however maybe be a little more mindful when they come back in the house by wiping them down, including their paws. There are non-toxic, antiviral wipes that humans use that you can also use on your pets. If you are in the high-risk group, then it might be wise to keep your cat indoors if you can for the time being.
What if I have been diagnosed with the virus?
People who are already infected with the bug must “restrict contact with any animals just like you would around other people.” The responsibility of caring for an affected person’s pet should be handed over to a healthy family member, but if that is not possible, the infected owner must wear a face mask and thoroughly wash their hands before walking, feeding or interacting with the animal.
Ideally, someone else should walk your dog but most small or medium-sized dogs will be fine in the backyard for half an hour each day. Some dogs can find this hard but you can keep them happy at home with keeping them active and playing with rubber toys and other indoor activities.
Entertaining your pets whilst you are in isolation
There are lots of ways to ensure your pet is well cared for even if you're stuck at home. If you are showing symptoms for the virus and have to stay indoors, if possible, arrange for another person to care for your pet - you could consider using a dog walker.
It is equally important to keep yourself as well as your pets physically and mentally healthy whilst in isolation.
Dogs 1. Have a treasure hunt with treats or hide and seek 2. Tug of war games or fetch 3. Time to catch a Frisbee 4. New training ideas to improve obedience skills
5. Running up and down the stairs
6. Fun and exercise on the Treadmill
7. KONG toys - stuff a Kong toy with frozen peanut butter or dog biscuits
8. Spoil your dog with a bath and groom or massage
Cats 1. If your cat has to spend extended periods alone each day, keep a radio playing or play relaxing music for him.
2. Cats love new toys
3. Cats love cardboard boxes and carrier bags big enough for them to sit in and feel safe!
4. Flick a scrunched-up ball of paper for him to play with indoors
5. New scratch post - a Climbing tree or tower. Vertical space is as important to cats as horizontal space, and cats love to be high up.
6. It's time for a groom - this is a very important time of each day when your feline gets your full and dedicated attention which is one-on-one time with YOU.
Horses If you own a horse or livestock and keep them on land that is not based at your address, arrange for a friend to care for them until you're able to return to normal, ie if you have to self-isolate.
Other important points to note during CORVID-19:
Stock up on pet supplies - Prepare a kit with essential supplies to have on hand in the event of an emergency. Your emergency kit should include a 30-day supply of your pets' medications, as well as at least two weeks' worth of food.
Practice good hygiene - If you haven't tested positive or been asked to self-isolate then continue to interact with your pets as normal but adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching them, their food, toys and bedding.
Limit physical contact - try to avoid being kissed or licked and/or sharing food with your pet during this time
Annual vaccinations - make sure your pets are kept up to date with their annual vaccinations including flea and worm treatments
We strongly encourage pet owners to take the necessary steps and incorporate pets into their precautionary measures to keep their family which includes their pets safe as well as healthy.
Last but not the least, pet owners should pre-determine a friend, family member or boarding facility which could be entrusted with taking care of their animal in case they are taken down by the infection.
Lush Pet Care would like to wish you and loved ones (which includes your beloved pets) to keep Safe and Healthy during this dreaded period of CORVID-19.