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How to care for your pets when carrying out ‘social distancing’ or staying at home due to Coronavirus: Q&A

Many of us are very worried about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on our pets and so we have pulled together some Q&As to help you. The Government is issuing regular updates on the virus and what we need to do so please do keep coming back to make sure you are up to date.

Can coronavirus infect pets?

There is currently no evidence that companion animals can be infected with, or spread, the version of coronavirus which is affecting people: 2019- nCOV or Covid 2019. However, it is important to adopt good hygiene practices which is good advice at any time and not specific to the Coronavirus situation. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after interacting with your pets and their items and avoid being kissed or licked and sharing food with them.

What should I do with my pets if I am socially distancing?

Social distancing shouldn’t have too much of an impact on your pets but it is worth planning for what your pet needs should you be required to stay at home. For example, you will need to make sure you have enough food and water for your pet, any bedding or substrate they need for their enclosure and if your pet requires regular medication, enough for the period you need to stay at home.

You should also think about who could help if your pet needed to go to the vet. In many cases, it is possible to get help from friends, family or items quickly delivered to your door but thinking about this now can help you be prepared.

What should I do with my pet if I am, or someone in my family is ill with coronavirus

If you are sick with coronavirus then current advice recommends restricting contact with your pets and other animals just like you would around other people. You also need to avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food. This is not because there have been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with the virus but we still don’t know everything about the virus.

While you are ill another member of your household will need to take care of your animals and they will need to follow good hygiene practices washing their hands thoroughly after contact and any of their items e.g. bedding, food bowls. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

Can I stroke other people’s pets or walk someone else’s dog?

Although there is no evidence that pets can spread the disease, we would advise being careful and not interacting with pets owned by people who are ill with the virus or whose household members have it, just in case. If this can’t be avoided, ensure you wash your hands after any contact.

Can my cat go outside if I am, or someone in my family is ill with the virus?

If your cat is used to staying in then try and keep them inside making sure they have access to their litter tray and that it is cleaned regularly. If your cat is used to coming and going as they please keeping them inside could be very stressful and may make them ill. We would advise minimising interactions with them and washing your hands thoroughly after contact with them or any of their items.

What can I do to keep my dog entertained indoors?

Mental stimulation is a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied so you can keep your dog happy by replacing exercise with other activities until you are able to take them back out for their usual walks.

Try challenging your pooch at tea time – ditch the food bowl and feed Fido using a Kong or a food puzzle to get them thinking.  Play, play, play! Most dogs love to play so set aside some time to have a good game of fetch or tug with your pooch.  Learning a new trick or command is great mental stimulation for a dog. Get out their favourite treats and try teaching your dog how to wave his paw, ‘sit’, ‘lie down’ or ‘roll-over’.

Get him sniffing – scent work can be a great way to keep them busy for ages! Hide treats around the garden or around the house and send them off in search of them. If you feed your dog kibble this can be a great way to serve them their meals!

Remember toilet breaks – remember your dog will still need to go outside to use the toilet so make sure they get regular access to the garden to potter, sniff and wee.

Can I train my dog to toilet indoors?

Yes, this is possible. First of all create an area which can be used as a toilet. There are lots of indoor toilets that can be bought for this purpose or you could use items like artificial grass and puppy pads. It is important to use something that wouldn’t normally be in the room so that once you can start walking your dog outside again your dog doesn’t continue to toilet in the house. As male dogs tend to lift their leg to urinate, having something they can use, such as a stone, will help.

Start to train your dog to use this area by taking them to it at a time when you think they need to go to the toilet e.g. in the morning, after food, sleeping and exercise. If they don’t go then move away from the area and keep a close eye for signs that your dog might want to go to the toilet and try again. This can include sniffing the floor or standing at the door you would normally use to leave the house.

It is really important that you adopt good hygiene practices when handling urine or faeces and after cleaning the toilet area. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You will also need to keep the toilet area clean using a suitable disinfectant.

How to keep children safe and dogs happy when staying at home

With schools closing due to coronavirus, our dogs and children will be spending a lot more time together. Dogs and children can be the best of friends but they do communicate very differently from one another – dogs find it hard to tell children that they don¿t like something and children can behave in ways which dogs can find scary or worrying.

 

Source: RSPCA UK