Are there things you must be mindful of as the owner of a domestic animal during the ongoing pandemic? If you thought the rules around the Covid-19 scare pertains to you, and not your pets, think again. A dog or a cat is a valued member of the household, and so there needs to be a protocol in place to ensure that everyone, including your pet, stays not just safe, but happy so that we’re all good on the other side of the situation. Here is a checklist of some of the things you should be doing, and some things you should not be doing, when it comes to the health and safety of your domestic pets during the ongoing pandemic.
DO spend as much time as you like with your cats, dogs, or any other species of animal you may have at home as a pet. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that there is no evidence in support of the contention that animals can inherit, or transmit, this virus, so there is no danger in being in proximity with your pets.
DO have a sanitization protocol in place for your pets, specially as they return home from walks outside your premises. This isn’t so much for the safety of your pets as for you. Should they pick up infected spores, saliva or any other contamination that is carrying the virus, it can transfer onto you or your family, making you vulnerable to the health threat the virus poses. I strongly recommend you have some disinfectant handy so that you can clean your pets’ paws, and brush down their fur nicely, so that they’re safe to be indoors with you. As the weather becomes more hospitable, I also recommend you give your dogs a bath more frequently, and be sure to sanitize yourself for your own protection once you are done.
DO consult your pet’s vet on the phone for standard health concerns of your pet. Obviously, visiting the vet’s clinic isn’t feasible for you at the moment, unless there is an emergency. But staying in touch with a medical professional for unusual behavior or health symptoms is a good idea because you pet may be confined to close spaces for longer periods of time, making them impatient or jittery.
DO interact with any street dogs who may be dependent on you for food. Like I said, the animal itself cannot pass on the virus through its saliva, but should it have picked up any contaminants from the street – you should keep a slight distance from the animal when you are feeding it. These homeless animals are more in need of your support than ever before, as the lockdown may have affected their access to leftovers from restaurants or public trash-bins. As an animal-lover I would suggest you do your bit for the stray population of dogs while following the safety guidelines for yourself like donning a mask, using disinfectant after handling a dog, and bathing after getting home. DON’T ignore you pet’s requirement for daily exercise just because everybody is trapped at home. The lockdown being a few weeks long, your animal’s health could suffer if it doesn’t get adequate sunshine and exercise. So play some chasing games with your dog, that could keep you both active, create an obstacle course indoors for them to bound over and around, enjoy a rigorous tug-of-way game, or any other activity in bouts through the day so that your pet isn’t sedentary for long periods of time.
DON’T let your pets overeat at this time. This is especially true for Labradors and retrievers who become overweight easily owing to little exercise they get in urban homes. If, for some reason, your pet likes to hang around the table with doleful eyes, begging for leftovers from your plate, the lockdown has given us the time to tame such pets. Start such dogs off on a polite, but firm, command of rules. Let them know in no uncertain terms that they cannot expect food other than their own meal-times when their meals will be doled out in fixed portions. This also means you shouldn’t allow your pet those indulgent snacks you may be tossing it as a treat every now and then.
DON’T let your pets play with other people’s pets. Yes, they can’t fall sick or transmit the virus from being around someone else’s pet, but they definitely can be unwitting carriers should they end-up carrying any contamination on their physical body like on their fur, in their nails or paws. Let them spend some quality time with you, for a change, and you can even utilize this spare time not just to bond but up their cleverness quotient with tricks, and other skills. They can go back to socializing with other animals once the lockdown is lifted, as animal-to-animal socializing is vital to any pet’s mental health in the long-run.
Inputs by Devanshi Shah from PetKonnect.