Caring for your Pet during a Pandemic
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At the time this article was written, the world had been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But what this disease and its impact have revealed is how fragile we are when confronted with things that we cannot control.
However, what we can control is the amount of love, care, and attention we give our pets in these difficult times or any other, for that matter. In this post, we will look at what you can do to make sure that your companion remains happy and healthy even when you’re going through a tough moment, such as dealing with the effects of a pandemic.
Remain as calm as possible
While cats are perhaps less inclined to have their mood affected by changes in their guardian’s emotional state, dogs can feel whenever their dog parents suffer or are feeling down. The amount of stress that a pandemic puts on someone who cares for a pet can be extreme.
Nevertheless, keeping your calm is paramount, because your companion is going to feel stressed, too, if you do. He or she isn’t going to understand what’s wrong and as much solace and compassion you might get from your furry friend, sometimes it might just not be enough.
It is difficult to stay grounded when the rest of the world is going crazy. But for the time being, everything is well. You are the most important person in your pet’s life because, without you, they wouldn’t be fed, clean, healthy, and generally taken care of. Being mindful about your needs, those of the people around you, and especially those of your pet matters a lot in a pandemic scenario.
Social distancing while walking your dog
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our habits and introduced the notion of social distancing. This measure will most probably be adopted in the event of future epidemics and pandemics as it is the best way of ensuring that community transmission is delayed for as long as possible.
While there haven’t been any studies according to which such pathogens can be transmitted by pets, it’s true that they can act as vectors. In any bacterial, fungal, or viral disease, pets can be transmission agents if they come in contact with an infected individual and then their pet parents.
As friendly as your pet might be when you take him or her out for a walk in the park, you should avoid contact with people you don’t know. Avoid letting others pet your dog because there is no effective way of sanitizing an animal, and you most definitely do not want to use substances such as alcohol or sodium hypochlorite on a dog’s fur. These solutions can be highly toxic.
Ideally, if you are a dog owner, you should take Fido out for a walk as early in the morning as possible. If you are lucky enough to have a yard, there is no need for you to interact with potentially infected individuals.
Disinfecting your pet’s paws and your living space
Depending on the pathogen that has led to the pandemic situation, which in this case would be a virus, it is a good idea to wash your dog’s paws when you get back home from a walk. The times during which such an infectious agent can last on the ground largely depends on its nature.
Most bacteria aren’t capable of living for long in the outdoor environment in the lack of a host. The same goes for most viruses. The exception would be a fungus, as it can live in the outdoor environment for a longer amount of time.
Washing your pet’s paws with warm water and soap is usually enough to remove any pathogen present on their surface. Make sure that you are thorough enough and get into the seemingly unreachable places, too. Soap is capable of dissolving the lepidic membrane on the surface of most viruses, so this is the most convenient and safest way of sanitizing a dog’s paws.
As for your living space, you can clean your handles and light switches with a solution of sodium hypochlorite, but try to avoid using it on the floors. Chloride can be toxic to pets, so choose a different kind of sanitizing solution, instead. Make sure that you research the pathogen so that you know what sanitizer actually kills it.
If you have a cat that loves to spend time outdoors, it might be a good idea to keep him or her indoors for the remainder of the pandemic. Not all cats are capable of putting up with being cooped up, especially if they are used to going out, but it’s the safest way of making sure that they don’t come in contact with anyone carrying the pathogen.
Order enough pet food and supplies
The COVID-19 pandemic has created widespread panic across the world, which is why many people have bought too many groceries. But what they didn’t get were pet supplies. As you might have noticed, pet food and accessories are readily available in stores, but the best way of protecting yourself would be to order them online.
Once the package arrives, you might have to wait for up to three days before opening it. This is because, as previously mentioned, bacteria and viruses don’t survive well on inanimate objects, but they have a varying degree of resistance depending on the material.
To make sure that you don’t run out of pet food, order it before you actually need it. Get only what you will truly require so that there is enough for everyone. Don’t worry, pet food will always be available, no matter the type of pandemic that might occur in the future.
Playing with your cat or dog is healthy both for your pet and for yourself. Make sure that you devote at least half an hour per day to playtime. Exercise keeps your pet in great shape, and it also produces endorphins, so it makes him or her happy, too.
Schedule your visit to the vet
Not everyone makes an appointment to the vet clinic and there are emergencies and various other situations that call for a visit to the vet. The point we are trying to make is that although it’s quite likely that vet clinics will continue to be open, it’s better to schedule your visit.
This way, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary contact with other people. The vet can schedule you at the time of your convenience, but in a pandemic, there’s a good chance of them spacing out the appointments so as to limit human contact.
If your pet is completely healthy, there is no need to go for a checkup right now. In times like this, even the annual vaccination can wait for several months. Do go to the vet if you have a puppy or a kitten that is following the vaccination plan.
Even if in a pandemic, people are often frightened that they themselves will get the disease, sometimes fear can make us resort to unusual gestures. Don’t try to make your pet wear a mask, or another type of protective equipment, because it’s quite likely that it’s not going to be effective and it will also cause breathing difficulties.
Don’t use strong disinfecting solutions on cats or dogs because they are often toxic. Use a pet shampoo if you really have to bathe your companion.
Avoid touching your pet if you are sick, especially if you live with other people in the same house. Remember that pets can be vectors of diseases, particularly respiratory ones.
Don’t cage or crate your pet. No matter what happens, he or she should be free to move around your home as usual.
If you are worried about becoming sick, get in touch with a friend or a close one and send them a copy of your keys. This way, you can rest assured that someone will care for your cat or dog even if you happen to be hospitalized.
Author: Cristina Vulpe
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