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Navigating COVID-19 With Your Pets

Updated: May 19, 2020

The world is a very confusing place right now. Our community is facing a new and unstable time, something that we have never really had to face before. With the constant news updates that we receive about how to conduct ourselves when out in the community and in the home, it is understandable that our feelings of being stressed, confused, scared, and lost are on the rise. One topic that is rarely covered is how to care for pets during this time of unease. That is why we collected some information to answer some pressing questions about how COVID-19 is making an impact on our furry friends. Hopefully this information can add some comfort to pet owners during this stressful time.

1. What are the effects of physical distancing on pets?

For the most part, this should be an enjoyable time for your pets. During any other time, many of our pets are home alone all day while we are at work or engaged in other activities. During this time of physical distancing, everyone is spending more time at home than usual. As long as you are not feeling sick, take advantage of this time to enjoy some extra cuddles and playtime with your pets.

"Fresh air and exercise will likely alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling, while giving your dog some fun and exercise."[1]

It is healthy to spend time outdoors while physical distancing, as long as you are feeling well and can remain at least six feet away from others. You should avoid crowded areas such as dog parks and busy trails. However, quiet neighborhood streets, less-popular trails, or your own backyard can provide an excellent opportunity to get outside and play or take a long walk with your dog.

If you have a cat, this is a great time to find new ways to play with them indoors. There are many different types of cat toys available (hint: check out our ever-growing collection of cat toys!), but cardboard boxes and balled-up paper that you likely already have at home can also provide a source of entertainment for both you and your fuzzball.

2. If I have multiple pets, or different types of pets, should I keep them separate?

Currently, there is no evidence that naturally infected pets can spread the virus to another animal, whether that be dog to dog, cat to cat, or between different types of pets (for example, from dog to cat), OR to people[2]. So, for right now there is no need to keep pets separated from each other at home. Taking your pet to a grooming appointment, boarding facility, or veterinary clinic is also okay, as long as you avoid close contact with employees and other clients by using physical distancing procedures. Call ahead to find out what the new procedures are for all businesses that you take your pet to.

3. How do I protect my pets if I get sick?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, public health officials recommend that you restrict contact with pets as a precaution until more information is known about the virus.[3] If possible, have another member of your household care for your pet.

"If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, public health officials recommend that you restrict contact with pets as a precaution until more information is known about the virus."[4]

If you have to take care of your pet yourself, follow the recommendations published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after any interaction with your pets, after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or touching for your face; avoid close contact with your pet (snuggling, kissing, or sleeping with your pet); wear a mask—even a cloth mask—to help decrease droplet spread when coughing or sneezing; and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.[5]

4. What if my pet needs veterinary care during this period of physical distancing?

Many veterinary clinics are adjusting their policies to reflect physical distancing guidelines related to COVID-19. If your pet needs veterinary care (or if you need to pick up medication, a prescription diet, etc.), call your veterinarian first to determine how to proceed. You may be asked whether you have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 and/or whether you have had any respiratory signs or fever. Based on this information, they will determine the safest way to meet with you and care for your pet.

You should expect that the visit to your Vet may look or feel a little different during this time period. Some practices are taking pets to the treatment area for exams and diagnostics, in order to limit the amount of time that team members and clients spend confined in exam rooms together, while other practices are offering curbside service and allowing clients to drop off their pets or wait in their cars while their pets are seen. Regardless of the approach used during your visit, understand that your veterinarian is doing his or her best to maximize your safety, your pet’s safety, and the safety of the veterinary team.

Check out the resources used to write this post and learn more information about making the most of this time with your pet:

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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