SAN JOSE — The global health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus can also affect pets, not only because their owners can get sick, but also because of the ways COVID-19 has changed everyday routines.
For this reason, animal welfare organization Humane Society International recommends that pet owners prepare a pet action plan, in the event that they become ill or require hospital care and are unable to take care of their pets. This plan should include identifying a family member or friend who can care for the animals when their owners cannot do so.
HSI also recommends that people keep pet food in stock for at least two weeks, keep copies of their pets’ vaccine records, document pets’ needs for special care or medication, and ensure that pets wear a collar with an ID tag that includes a telephone number.
“We are experiencing an emergency situation and we must not neglect our pets. We need to be prepared and to have an action plan in case we get sick and cannot take care of them. And, of course, we must follow all hygiene protocols when we interact with them,” said Andrea Borel, executive director of HSI/Latin America.
Such protocols include handwashing before and after interacting with animals, washing and disinfecting their collars, leashes, and other accessories, and avoiding crowded places while exercising or walking them.
The World Health Organization has pointed out that there is no scientific evidence that companion animals like dogs or cats can transmit COVID-19 to humans.
Changes in people’s lifestyles – such as working from home and social isolation – can also affect their pets. “Most pets will be happy that we are working from home, but it is important to maintain their routine (such as set meal times and regular sleep hours), because this is a temporary situation and we do not want to create separation problems when we return to the office once the crisis is over,” Borel added.
Since people are going to be socially isolated, time at home can be used to encourage games and exploration with your dogs — by hiding treats in a room, for example. In the case of cats, their independence should be respected, since they are generally more comfortable being alone.
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