Hygiene Rules Pet Owners Should Follow During This Pandemic

Pet owners will never cease to admit the joy and great companionship animals bring in our lives. Having these furry friends around makes difficult times easier to cope with. They are as integral a part of the family as our children. However, just like our little kids, they can be stubborn when it comes to hygiene. Moreover, animals have an inherent dislike of bathing and cleaning. But with the recent pandemic taking over the world and as we remain confined within the four walls, it is crucial to pay extra attention to their hygiene as we are now sharing the same space 24/7. 

Even though WHO has announced that pets do not act as carriers to the deadly coronavirus, pet care should be a priority. They must undergo a strict sanitation protocol, especially after they enter the home from a walk. There are high chances for them to bring the infection through their paws from infected surfaces. The common-area surfaces such as corridors, walls, elevators also serve as the potential breeding ground for the virus. Thus, when the pets come in touch with these surfaces, they naturally carry them and bring the infection to the house. 

 In this article, we will try to provide the relevant hygiene recommendations for pets and guidelines that will help you keep the infection at bay. Moreover, when we are talking about corona and pets and their hygiene, it includes different pets. Whether we have cats, dogs, exotic animals, or even livestock and farm animals, the hygiene rules apply to everyone. 

Should We Avoid Contact With Our Pets?

Amidst the global pandemic, the question that troubles us is: Can my pet get corona? The answer from the data available is, NO. It is a relief to learn that this rapidly spreading virus does not entail any health risks for our furry friends. The American Veterinary Medical Association wrote that currently, there is no solid proof of the fact that pets can spread COVID-19. However, the risk involved is vice-versa. As we are not immune to the infection, chances are the pets might become exposed to it through us. Thus, if there are any faintest signs of the virus, one should avoid touching, snuggling, kissing, being licked, and sharing food with the pets.

How To Maintain Pet Health During The Pandemic?

Staying locked up inside the house is as challenging for our pets as is for us. Thus, we ought to take extra care for their health during this hour of crisis. Moreover, it is not only about physical health but also about looking after their mental and emotional needs. Hence, mental stimulation is required. Pets have a great habit of learning new tricks and now seems to be the perfect time to teach them new ones that will enable them to stay mentally active.

Pet care during the shutdown can be a daunting task as we cannot take them outside. Thus, we can arrange games that are suitable for indoor spaces or make them run around in the garden or within the perimeter of the house. It will also help in keeping weight gain at check. Furthermore, it is also essential to lessen the quantity of their meals as they cannot burn calories now, and make sure they consume an adequate amount of water.

Many vets recommend cleaning the pets often, mainly when they spend time outside to curb the possibilities of carrying the infection. We can wipe them with a clean wet towel or use baby wipes too. In case of medical emergencies, you can rely on GreatVet.com for early hour attendance.

Pet Care Recommendations By Veterinarians

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The leading veterinarians and centers believe that we must be able to sort our priorities during this period of lockdown. For example, nail care and grooming can very well wait for the time being. Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a medical assistant at the Animal Medical Center in New York, states, “Fur between your dogs’ toes should not keep you up at night.” However, bathing and exercising should not be overlooked.

1. Pet Care Hygiene Recommendation For Cats

The American Veterinary Association (AVA)# has reassured cat owners that they can let them leave home during the lockdown. In case a cat belongs to an infected household, it must not be allowed to roam outside. However, pet hygiene for coronavirus should not be treated lightly, and while there is no need to panic, practicing good hand hygiene is highly important. 

2. Pet Care Hygiene Recommendation For Dogs

Many pet owners are concerned about the hygiene of their dogs, especially when they enter the home after spending time outside as they can act as potential carriers. Therefore, we have to make sure that we do not contract the virus. If the dog is going out to eliminate, we can keep some papers handy so that it will not come in contact with dust and grime that might harm us. The paws should be thoroughly washed with soap and warm water or with sanitizer as soon as the pet enters. We must also increase the frequency of the baths, especially for the breeds that are hairy like golden retrievers, Pomeranians, spitzs, Samoyeds, etc., as the hair collects the dust and dirt, and check the nails for growth and dirt accumulation.

3. Pet Care Hygiene Recommendations For Exotic Animals

The hygiene rule applies to all and sundry, even if one has exotic animals as pets. CDC^ put some guidelines regarding how to take care of animals amidst the pandemic. According to them, we must treat animals as our fellow humans. We should not let them interact with other people or animals outside and also avoid taking them to public places. There are significant chances of transfer of the infection from humans to them. Therefore, in such a case, we must avoid physical contact and wash our hands after handling them or their food and waste. Moreover, if there is anything odd about their health, immediately contact a vet near you.

4. Pet Care Hygiene Recommendations For Farm And Livestock Animals

Many animal healthcare institutes have put forward a guideline** for farm and livestock animals. Although there is no risk of catching the infection from farm animals either, we should take the precautionary measures. These include good hygiene and biosecurity practices. After coming in contact with livestock, we should thoroughly wash our hands and keep the housing conditions clean. Moreover, pigs have shown the risk of catching infections of influenza. Thus, to control the severity of the disease, one must vaccinate them, use effective ventilation systems, and perform good hygiene. These are the crucial aspects of animal management amidst the pandemic. Moreover, landholders must implement on-farm biosecurity practices too.

Checklist For Pets During The Pandemic

With the advent of the pandemic, many pet parents are struggling to find the essential supplies for their fur babies. Thus, when we still have time, we should keep these products handy as and when they are available. Here is a checklist:

Food supplies- Keep an adequate amount of pet food at home. Many stores are still delivering them at the doorstep. However, as an alternative, one can also turn to fresh fruits and vegetables such as mangoes, watermelons, apples, carrots, potatoes, and cucumbers. We can give them boiled vegetables which stay light on the stomach. Please contact your area veterinarian in case there are any doubts before giving your pet anything which they are not used to.

Medication-  According to vet recommendations for coronavirus, we should stock up on vital maintenance medicines such as anti-flea and tick treatments, intestinal deworming medications, and heartworm preventive medicines. In an emergency, you can contact a 24 hour vet near you or animal hospitals in your area that provide emergency services  round the clock.

Grooming supplies- We need to keep essential grooming supplies in store such as brush, shampoo, toothbrush, toenail clippers, etc. that will further ensure the maintenance of hygiene during this tough time.

Conclusion

Currently, there is no evidence that animals can spread the virus; however, they can act as potential carriers. Hence, it is advisable to take the necessary preventive measures, especially hygiene conditions. If an individual is infected, he/she must avoid contact with furry friends to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. Vet care is an essential service which is available during the shutdown but in a limited capacity hence in an emergency, we can definitely get in touch with our vets or the emergency animal hospital in your area.

Reference Articles 

*https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions

** https://pasafarming.org/covid19/

^https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

#https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/sars-cov-2-animals-including-pets

 

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