By now, we’re all familiar with the government’s advice to protect ourselves and our loved ones from coronavirus. What perhaps isn’t so clear is how we should care for our pets during this global pandemic. Is there anything pet owners should do differently? To help answer your questions (and to put your mind at ease), we’ve rounded up some tips for keeping your pets happy, healthy and safe.
Keeping your pet clean
- At present, there’s no evidence that companion animals can be infected with coronavirus, and there are no reports of animals in the UK with the disease. But if someone infected touches, coughs or sneezes on your pet, the virus could survive on their fur for several hours. With that in mind, there’s no need to worry. Just remember to take precautions like washing your hands after handling your pet and, when needed, bathing your pet more frequently. Never bathe your pet more than once a week though, as this could deplete their skin of the natural oils that help protect it.
- Regularly brushing your pet’s coat will help to control shedding, remove dirt and stimulate those natural oils mentioned above. We recommend having grooming sessions when your pet is most relaxed. These are also great opportunities to pamper your pet with some extra affection.
- Ensure you have all your pet’s healthcare basics at hand, like poo bags, litter as well as cat or dog shampoo.
- Likewise, keep up to date with flea, tick and worm prevention. Setting up a Repeat Order is an easy way to help you stay on top of treatments.
Keeping your pet healthy
- As advised by the government, you can leave your home to exercise once a day. So unless you’re self-isolating (more on that below), you can still walk your dog as a way to enjoy some fresh air and keep active.
- Many cleaning products are toxic to pets. If using bleach to clean surfaces, dilute with water and rinse surfaces afterwards. Only let pets walk across disinfected floors once they are dry.
- Remember hand sanitisers contain alcohol, so it’s important not to touch your pet straight after using them.
- As advised by the government, vet practices across the UK are still offering consultations by phone and online, limiting face-to-face visits to emergencies. The RSPCA has a handy page for owners who need to find or call a vet.
- If you can’t get hold of your pet’s favourite brand of food, introduce your new choice of food slowly by mixing a quarter of the new food with the old one and increasing to an extra quarter of the new food every two days (basically, 1/4, 2/4, ¾ and finally 4/4 – meaning you’re feeding the new food only – on day 8).
Keeping your pet entertained
- Aim to keep a routine for feeding, grooming and playing. This not only helps avoid any stress, but it will also help maintain a sense of normality.
- Hide treats around the house or give them as a reward for good behaviour.
- Teach your pet a new trick! Our furry friends are constantly observing us and feel mentally stimulated when they learn new things.
- Give your cat a good exercise session with a laser pointer. To avoid frustration, we suggest letting them ‘catch’ the red dot from time to time. Also, be careful not to aim the pointer at your cat’s eyes as it could cause damage to them.
- Have a few empty boxes lying around the house? They’ll make a perfect hiding place for your cat. Place them out of sight (under your bed, for example) or leave them out on a table or floor and watch. Empty boxes are basically cat heaven!
- To revive old cat toys, spritz them with a natural catnip spray.
- Fill a KONG toy with liver paste, peanut butter or your dog’s favourite snacks. This never fails to keep our pooches entertained.
If you’re self-isolating
- If you have the symptoms of coronavirus, have been diagnosed with it, or qualify as someone vulnerable, your pet will most likely still be able to stay with you. However, it’s important to limit contact and avoid sleeping on the same bed or letting them lick your face. The PDSA has compiled a very useful Q&A for pet owners who are self-isolating.
- If you own a cat, our friends at Cats Protection advise minimising the amount of time your cat spends outdoor unsupervised whenever possible.
- If you own a dog, you can exercise him in your garden or ask someone to take him out for you. The Kennel Club offer some great advice on walking someone else’s dog safely.