How To Keep Your Pets Healthy During A Pandemic
While the number of cases has been very small, a few animals have tested positive for COVID19. The first animals to test positive were a pair of cats in New York, and seeing as how NY and NJ have been hit the hardest, it's worth taking some precautions.
The CDC is stressing that in all the cases, the animals are becoming sick after being in contact with infected humans, and not the other way around. Still, it seems we learn something new about this disease every day, so better safe than sorry.
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), try to keep some sort of 'social distance' with your pets and other animals:
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
The Ocean County Health Department also recommends monitoring the mental health of your pets. I've seen the joking memes about how dogs are loving having their humans around all day while cats are hating, but it is true that pets are creatures of habit, and disruptions to the routine can be harmful.
- Keep a set routine for your pet. Create specific playtimes, like in the morning before you start your work from home, or during your lunch break, etc.
- Stick to a regular feeding schedule. Don't change their feeding schedule if you are forced to stay home, making switching back difficult when you go back to a normal routine.
- Keep your pet active. While taking the traditional walk with your pet can be fun, try to also play with your pet by providing toys that stimulate your pet’s mind, like those that can be stuffed with treats or squeaky toys. Just remember to take any additional calories into account to keep your pet healthy and fit.
- Teach your pet new tricks. Tiring out your dog mentally can help them cope with being cooped up. Working on basic training commands like, “sit,” “stay,” and “down,” will help to burn through your pet’s mental energy and help them settle down a bit.
- Last but not least, remember to spend quality time showing affection and comforting your pet. Remember, pets are part of the family, and we are all in this together.
Again, it appears the chances of spreading the coronavirus between pets and humans is slim...but I'd rather not take my chances.
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