Coronavirus: How to keep your pets safe during the Covid-19 pandemic
During these troubling times, many of us have plenty to feel anxious about – particularly if you are in one of the high-risk groups that is self-isolating to contain the spread of the virus. Can you still walk your dog? Will you run out of pet food? Can pets catch or spread the virus? So, this week we’ve taken the time to gather some facts from trusted sources help you keep your pet safe and happy during this unprecedented global crisis.
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Can my pet catch Coronavirus?
OK let’s start by clearing up the confusion around this by rephrasing the question. Coronavirus is a broad term describing a type of virus, which includes SARS and MERS. There is a canine form of Coronavirus (CCoV) that causes intestinal issues in dogs and a feline form (FCoV).
So yes they can catch Coronavirus, but the strain of Coronavirus that has put the world in lockdown is a new strain called Covid-19, so what you need to ask is “Can my pet catch Covid-19?”
Last month in Hong Kong a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog DID test positive with Covid-19 BUT it was a 'weak positive' from nasal and oral swabs; meaning that the virus may have been transferred onto the dog from elsewhere and it was not actually suffering from the disease. After being quarantined the dog tested negative. Sadly the dog died a few days ago and the owner refused an autopsy to establish the cause of death. Although this is troubling news for pet owners, it does not seem likely that this dog was infected with or died from Covid-19, or we would have seen many, many more cases in pets by now.
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Can my pet spread Covid-19?
Whilst we have established that - as far as we know - the disease cannot be caught by pets, it may be transmitted if it is on the surface of the pet – just as it may be transferred from a door handle or public transport. Other Coronavirus strains can live on some surfaces for up to 9 days so it is important to keep washing your hands before and after touching any pets. If you usually take your dog into work with you then it is probably advisable to leave them at home to reduce the risk of spreading infection – or stay and work from home with them instead. You may have seen some pictures online of pets wearing facemasks but this is completely unnecessary. Wearing a facemask could be distressing for pets and could also impair their ability to breathe normally, particularly in flat-faced breeds.
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Can my pet stay with me if I am self-isolating?
In most cases the PDSA agrees this is a good idea. They have published some really useful guidelines on their website. You can’t walk your dog if you are self-isolating so it may be best to keep in with them if you have a large garden – or get someone else to walk them as long as you don’t have any contact with the person collecting them (place the dog in a porch or similar room with the lead for them to collect and drop off). Wash your hands before and after handling the dog and wipe down the lead with some antibacterial spray or wipes. If you have a smaller dog then try playing some indoor games to keep them entertained too.
If you are infected with the virus then try not to have too much contact with your pet if possible – especially cats who may be able to come and go via the catflap and risk infecting people who pet them outside if they are the friendly type.
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Stock up on pet supplies
Although we do not encourage panic-buying or hoarding, if you are going to be self-isolating then the ASPCA recommends that you prepare a kit with essential supplies for your pet in the event of an emergency. The kit should include a 30-day supply of medicine and two weeks’ worth of food along with any important information about your pet, including things like their habits, dietary requirements, medical conditions and medications taken, vet contact information, and any notable behavioural tendencies.
We hope you’ve found this information useful – we will be updating this page if any of the information or advice changes. We’d like to thank you all for continuing to support our business during these troubling times, stay safe and if you have any tips for entertaining your pets during the next few months let us know in the comments section below.
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