Concerns about COVID-19 – Coronavirus – are increasing at a rapid pace and people are starting to think about the potential medium-to-longer term impacts on their lifestyle and routines. The information below is provided to help allay some of the concerns about pets and COVID-19, as well as provide some helpful information regarding your pets if you are required to self-isolate.
Can Pets Catch COVID-19?
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted from pet to human, or between pets. Viruses spread between animals are genetically distinct from human viruses and the genetic distinction makes it extremely difficult for humans and their pets to pass diseases to each other.
Despite this, we recommend that standard hygiene precautions continue to be practised in handling animals. This includes avoiding “kisses”, and washing your hands thoroughly after handling all animals. Keep petting your animals, but wash your hands with soap and water afterwards, whether they are your animal or someone else’s.
Planning for Pet Care in Case You’re in Isolation
If you are required to observe a period of isolation, there should be no reason you cannot continue to care for your pets at home unless you are sick. Companion animals are known to provide health benefits to humans, therefore their company is likely to make a period of isolation much more bearable than it might otherwise be.
If on the other hand you have contracted Coronavirus, it is recommended that you limit contact with pets and other animals. If you share your home, have someone else in the household care for your pet. If you are sick and in quarantine, technically your pet is in quarantine also, and you should try to find some way to care for the animal in the confines of your home. Plans must be made for your pets’ food, medical supplies, exercise, and vet visits.
We recommend ensuring that you keep two weeks’ worth of pet food at all times. If you are unable to leave your home to buy it, you will find a number of retailers that will deliver it. In most cases you can pay by credit card and they can drop it to your door without your needing to come into contact with the deliverer. Friends, family members, and neighbours may also be able to assist.
In addition to food, please consider anything else your pet needs regularly. Cat litter, and straw or hay for the cages of pocket pets for example, will need to be included in your plans.
Treatments for pets fall into two categories just as they do for people; over-the-counter products that can be purchased without a prescription, and prescription-only medicines. Examples of the former are parasite preventatives, and these can be acquired similarly to food via online purchases that can be home-delivered. If your pet receives a prescription medication administered at home we recommend speaking to us to make advance plans for prescriptions and supply of the medicine.
Cases vary from pet-to-pet and in some cases a visit to the vet will be necessary to review a pet’s treatment plan before a prescription can be made.
If your pet needs to see a vet, you will need to make arrangements for someone to take them. Home visits would not be an option due to your quarantine status, and Vets4Pets does not offer a pick-up and drop-off service. As with food we recommend that you have two weeks of medicine available at all times.
Even though you may be required to remain within the confines of your home, your pets will still need exercise, particularly dogs. If your isolation is self-imposed and you’re not sick, you may want to consider the option of getting others to walk your dog. Check with neighbours and people you know whether they’d be able to help. You may need to enlist the support of several people who could take turns. Other dog owners are often a good a starting point, provided your dogs are compatible. Be sure to observe the protocols established by Australian Government for contact between people when handing pets to others.
If you can’t find a way to maintain your pets’ exercise schedules, mental stimulation will help keep them entertained and occupied. Try a Kong or a food puzzle to get them thinking, and play lots of games. A good game of fetch or tug-of-war is usually a favourite for most dogs. Learning a new trick or command is great mental stimulation for all pets.
Planning for Pet Care if You’re Absent
Should you need to leave your home we recommend that pets are boarded in professional boarding facilities, or stay with friends, neighbours or family. It is not appropriate for any pet to remain at home by themselves under any circumstances. If your pets need to go into boarding, someone who is not subject to quarantine should take them on your behalf. Vets4Pets offers boarding services.
Regardless of where your pet is going, the person responsible for their care will need the things your pet relies on, such as food, bedding and medication. Carefully consider how these things can be provided without having to come into contact with them yourself. There are varying reports of how long the virus can live on inanimate objects and it’s advisable to avoid any risk. Consider the options of getting new supplies for your pet delivered directly to where they will be supervised.
Make sure the person minding your pet is aware of any relevant medical background and has details of your vet, and where to take your pet in an emergency.
When You Don’t Have Time to Plan Ahead
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and you need to leave your home without plans in place for your pets, you should inform your doctor or the hospital to which you are being taken that there is a pet in the household. They will liaise with the relevant animal health authorities.
Understanding about the virus that causes COVID-19 is continuing to evolve and information could change about the disease and its impact on pets and their owners in the coming weeks and months. Check the Government’s website regularly and contact us if your pet is sick or you have any questions about their care.