COVID-19 has brought about a great deal of confusion, especially when it comes to pets and whether or not they can catch and transmit the disease.
Dr. Erica Campbell, an associate veterinarian at Catnip & Carrots Veterinary Hospital in New Hyde Park, broke down what all pet parents should know during these uncertain times.
“First and foremost, do not abandon your pets,” she says. “At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals can spread COVID-19 to people.”
People and their pets can safely coexist during this pandemic, if proper precautions are taken.
“Treat the care of your animals as you would with other humans,” Campbell says. “Be sure to wash your hands before and after interactions and avoid excessive contact if possible.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who is sick with COVID-19 avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or sleeping in the same location, and/or sharing food with your pet. When possible, designate a trusted pet caregiver to care for the animal and supply them with an emergency plan to include, at a minimum, pet’s identification, food, supplies, medication, and veterinarian’s contact information.
Dr. Campbell suggests keeping cats and small pets indoors, and for those who must walk their dog, practice social distancing from both people and other pets. Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
“Keeping your leashed pets away from other dogs as well as humans is essential,” she says. “Do not allow dogs to sniff or lick other dogs, and refrain from having other people pet your dog.”
It is important to remember that pets’ daily routines have likely changed just like everyone else’s. Animals can quickly pick up on added stress and may have negative reactions. Some stress reducers include setting up routines for playtimes and mealtimes, having extra toys and treats on hand, and providing a private, kid-free area so pets can decompress.
Anyone who plans on adopting or fostering during the pandemic should educate themselves on how to build a strong relationship with a new pet. Give them space and allow them to adjust, as they’ve likely been through a lot. Contact local rescue groups and/or trainers for additional resources and guidance.
For more information, visit cdc.gov/healthypets
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