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In some countries walking pets is one of the few reasons to go outside. The pet owners are jokingly offering to “rent” their four-legged friends to anyone who wants to have a walk. But, jokes aside, how shall we walk them? Is coronavirus dangerous for the animals? Shall we take additional safety measures as pet owners? Today we’ll try to answer the frequently asked questions about pet handling during the quarantine period.
1. Can pets have COVID-19?
The recent news about the dog from China who was “weak positive” to COVID-19 caused the new wave of panic and, unfortunately, mass abandoning of cats and dogs. On the 13th of March, 2020 World Health Organisation stated that for now there is no evidence of humans infected by pets or pets having symptoms of COVID-19. Now WHO has a version that the dog had virus from its sick owners, but can’t spread the disease further or become sick itself.
Shelley Rankin, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, recommends just to include your pets into the family emergency plan and take the same precaution measures as with humans. Moreover, the WHO site recommends people who may be sick wear masks while communicating with pets, because the main (and the only confirmed for now) source of infection is human to human contact.
We still don’t know for sure if pets are able to get COVID-19, but we should be careful with them as much as with other family members. And, of course, the pandemy isn’t the cause to abandon our four-legged friends!
2. How to get ready for an emergency?
The main recommendations by Houston Human Society are quite simple:
– enough of pet food;
– everything you need for the emergency evacuation with pets;
– timely vaccination of the pets;
– collars with dog tags and microchips.
The most important is to get enough pet food. It is essential for the pets who need a special diet or got used to the food of particular class or brand. The grocery shops should always work, but in some countries pet food isn’t considered the essential goods. Learn the products you can substitute the pet food with in case it is gone from the store shelves!
The pet carrier, drinking bowl and some pet food should be accessed quickly. In case of emergency evacuation with pet it should have its own “emergency bag”. Pack this bag as if you are going to the picnic with pet for the whole day. Put the veterinary passport of your pet together with your own. Make sure that your pet was vaccinated in time. It may be extremely important if you change the place of your residence.
Each pet should have a collar (or other accessories) with a dog tag with your contacts. It’s better to get the “smart” dog tag with QR code (like on the WAUDOG Nylon collar: it is easy to contact the pet family via QR code. If it’s possible to implant microchips, consider it too.
3. Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for pets?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine exists neither for humans nor for pets (the possibility of pets to catch COVID-19 isn’t confirmed yet).
But the pets can be vaccinated from animal types of coronaviruses. These diseases can’t be transmitted to humans, are relatively harmless and mostly are connected with stomach upset. The animal coronaviruses vaccines are not related to COVID-19.
4. How to walk pets during the quarantine period?
If your pets are used to regular walks, don’t cease it. It’s better to ask the young and healthy family members to walk the pets – the streets are still a risky place to go, even if there are few people on them.
It’s better to walk for a short period of time and in familiar places. Avoid contact with other people and their pets. You may use a toy or a fitness tool. It will give the full emotional and physical load to the pet and substitute the long walk.
WHO recommends to limit the tactile contact with pets, especially with those who is walking outside. Don’t allow pets to lick or bite you, try to pet them less and wash your hands afterwards.
Despite lots of photos of dogs in the special animal masks that are in the Internet – you don’t have to put them on your pets. The mask can’t protect from infection (we remind that pets are not likely to have COVID-19 or infect people). The mask is needed to protect the other people from the sick one wearing it.
The fur of the pets should be treated as the clothes you use to walk outside. You should wash your pet’s paws each time you come home from a walk. It is recommened to bathe dogs once a month (up to once a week in case of need, but using a special dog shampoo or baby moisturing shampoo to keep pet’s skin hydrated). The dog vest or jumpsuit may be useful, minimising the contact of pet’s fur with the surroundings. The vest should be taken off right near the door and thoroughly washed between the walks.
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