Here's How You Can Keep Your Pets Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Rosunnara Roth
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Photo Courtesy: Valerie Elash/Unsplash

There’s a lot of information about how to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19, but what about your beloved pets? Animals have tested positive for the virus, including two cats from New York and a pug from North Carolina. However, the number of cases is so low that the CDC says pets are unlikely to catch or transmit the virus.

Despite the CDC’s message, many health and animal experts emphasize following extra precautions to protect our furry companions. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Today, taking care of our pets is different due to the crisis. Here’s how you can keep your pet safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Best Times to Wash Your Hands and Pets

There’s no information available about animals spreading the virus, but it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after you touch your pets. Bacteria and fungi that live on animal skin, fur or hair can still make you sick. It’s also important to wash your hands before and after handling pet food and supplies.

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Photo Courtesy: Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash

While your hygiene practices are growing, your pet’s hygiene routine stays the same. Experts don’t recommend giving animals extra baths because it can dry out their skin and lead to more health issues.

Opt to Go Outside Under Certain Conditions

Although it's safe for you and your pet to stay at home together during the shelter-in-place orders, it’s encouraged to get some exercise outdoors (if your region allows it). Walking your dog can help relieve some stress and anxiety. Plus, it’s good for your and your pet’s health. However, there are some guidelines you should follow.

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Photo Courtesy: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

You should only spend time outside if you're feeling well. When you go out with your dog, make sure to keep it on a leash 6 feet away from other people and animals. The best way to avoid running into people and animals is to find the least-populated dog parks or public spaces.

When it comes to cats, keep them indoors to prevent them from coming into contact with other animals and people. If you have several pets in your household, it’s fine for them to interact with each other.

Stock Up on a Good Amount of Food, Medicine and Supplies

As you stock up on supplies for yourself and your family, you should also plan to buy more essentials for your little pal. If your pet takes medications, pick up a 30-day supply of each one. It’s also a good idea to get two weeks’ worth of food for each animal you have.

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Photo Courtesy: Sangia/Unsplash

Food and medicine are important parts of an animal emergency kit. Some other essential supplies to purchase are water and pet carriers. For dogs, it’s a good idea to have enough plastic waste bags. For cats, you may need more litter and a litter box if you don't already have one.

What Happens If You Get Sick?

If you are sick due to COVID-19 but must take care of your pet, you should keep practicing good hygiene and wear a mask. You should also limit contact with pets, which means no touching, cuddling or receiving kisses and licks. This includes keeping your pets off of your bed and not sharing food.

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Marquardt/Flickr

It’s best to designate another person in your household to look after your pet if you get sick or need to stay at the hospital for medical attention too. We must prepare for worst-case scenarios. Sadly, as more people succumb to the virus, more pets are getting left behind. However, having an emergency plan will prevent your pet from being abandoned.

If you can’t find someone in your household, you could also ask a family member, neighbor or friend to watch your pet. Make sure to have a backup plan. Once you find someone, prepare to give the caretaker the following supplies and documents for your pet:

  • - Medicine
  • - Food
  • - Toys
  • - Leash or harness
  • - Collars
  • - Carrier
  • - Care instructions
  • - Updated tags
  • - Microchip information
  • - Medical records
  • - Veterinarian’s number and information
  • - Your contact information


What If Your Pet Gets Sick?

COVID-19 testing for animals is uncommon, and experts don’t advise going that route. Although cases of people spreading the virus to animals exist, there’s no evidence of animals spreading the virus to humans.

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Photo Courtesy: Matthew Henry/Unsplash

If your pet is sick, the best solution is to contact the veterinarian before heading to the facility. During the pandemic, some pet clinics may have limited services, hours and availability. These clinics also follow new health protocols, so expect some changes from your normal visit. Once you consult the veterinarian, you’ll be able to take better care of your sick pet.