With over 163,000 cases of COVID-19 in the US alone (as of this writing), protecting ourselves, our families, our friends, and our neighbors has become critical. More and more of us find ourselves self-isolating at home as we attempt to slow the spread of the virus sweeping the world.
For many of us, that also means we’re home more with our beloved pets. According to healthcarenews.com, “More than 80 million American households are home to at least one feline or canine family member.” Most people consider their animal companions to be part of the family, and like any family member, are concerned on how to look after their pet’s well-being during this outbreak.
Fortunately, experts agree that there is no evidence thus far of pets being infected with the virus, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to transmit it to your pet should you become sick. Nor, according to the CDC, is there any evidence of companion animals spreading the virus or being a source of infection.
Still, it’s important to take precautions to make sure both you and your animals stay healthy in these challenging times. “Pets are truly an essential part of the family for millions of Americans, and we want to ensure the entire family stays healthy during this time — both mentally and physically,” said RestoraPet CEO Brian Larsen in a press release.
So what can you do to make sure your furry, scaly, or feathered friends remain safe, healthy, and happy? Pet wellness brand, RestoraPet, has put together a list of some important tips to help you care for your pet during this outbreak.
Ensure adequate pet-care supply: Pet owners should have enough food, supplements, medications, and any other pet-care products needed to last your pet at least two weeks and, ideally, four weeks.
Have a contingency plan: Identify someone who can take care of your pet in the event you no longer can. Be sure to inform them of any special care your pet requires. When it comes to medication, make sure to provide specific and detailed directions about dosing and administration.
Find indoor games to help pets exercise: There are several ways to engage pets physically and mentally while indoors. Consider playing keep away, getting pets to chase laser pointers, calling dogs back and forth through the house with treats, blowing bubbles for them to chase, playing hide and seek, or getting them puzzle toys. You can also encourage them to forage for food, set up an indoor agility course, and play “find the toy or treat.”
Make an indoor or backyard potty: Having a stash of pee pads in the house may prove useful if you and your dog don’t want to go outdoors. Also, consider making a potty for your dog in the backyard by bordering off an area of the yard.
Do not overfeed: While more and more Americans are forced to stay home and self-isolate, it is easier than ever to stress eat during this time without realizing it—and overfeed pets alongside yourself. According to a recent Pet Obesity Prevention survey, nearly 60 percent of cats and 56 percent of dogs are considered overweight or obese, which can lead to health problems.
Develop a schedule: Many pets, like people, are comforted by routines. As many of us find our daily routines disrupted, it’s important to develop new rituals and routines that help give pets structure. Continue to feed them and walk them on a similar schedule, if possible, or develop new indoor routines to replace the missing rituals.
Quarantine yourself from pets: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or suspect that you may be positive, it remains unclear whether a pet contract COVID-19 or become a vector for passing it, so steer clear of pets and other humans in your household during this time. If you cannot find someone else to care for your pet, continue providing care yourself, but limit contact with them as much as possible. Try not to pet them but, if you must, wash your hands both before and after. Do not kiss them or snuggle with them, and wear a face mask around them. Once you get better and the quarantine has passed, you can give your pet extra love and snuggles to make up for the couple of weeks apart.
Plan for medical emergencies: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or suspect that you may be positive, and your pet becomes sick or experiences an emergency that requires veterinary attention and no one else can take them to a vet or animal hospital, pet owners should call ahead to inform the vet of the situation.
Have updated medical records: If worse comes to worst, you may have to board your pet to keep him or her safe. For this reason, it is a good idea to ensure every pet is up to date on his or her vaccines. Also, make sure pets are microchipped and that their records are up to date.
Stay calm: Since pets pick up on our nervous energy, the last thing you want to do is stress them out in a way that causes them to act out, further perpetuating your own anxiety. Do some deep breathing, pet them calmly, and make sure to give them your full, undivided attention at least 15 minutes per day, to soothe both them and yourself.