Our pets are beloved family members and important parts of our households, so it’s only natural that we are worried about how Coronavirus could affect them. But can cats (and dogs) get Covid-19? Should they be kept inside? Our Pet & Coronavirus Guide answers any questions you may have during this difficult time including tips on how to keep your pets happy during isolation and what preparations can be made to care for them during illness and an emergency?
Can I catch Coronavirus from my pet?
Infectious disease experts from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Health Organisation have said “At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can spread Coronavirus or indeed be infected with it in the same way as humans.”
This specific type of Coronavirus cannot be picked up by dogs or cats. There is a different type of strain of Coronavirus that they can get, but that has been around for years and is nothing to worry about.
Can the virus be spread from touching animals?
To avoid any risk of your cat or dog carrying the virus on its fur, the World Organisation for Animal Health advises hand washing “before and after being around animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.”
It is possible pets can carry the virus on their fur but the good thing about the virus is that it doesn’t last very long outside the body. However that being said, social-distancing is the key, so you should avoid stroking other people’s pets during this current situation.
Should I restrict my cat from going outside?
For now, still allow your cat to roam freely outside, however, maybe be a little more mindful when they come back in the house by wiping them down, including their paws. There are non-toxic, antiviral wipes that humans use that you can also use on your pets. If you are in the high-risk group, then it might be wise to keep your cat indoors if you can for the time being.
Entertaining your pets in isolation
There are lots of ways to ensure your pet is well cared for even if you’re stuck at home.
As important as it is for your pet to stay physically healthy, mental health is also key and there are plenty of ways to keep them busy whilst indoors. The silver lining by doing this is that it’ll also help fight loneliness and depression as pet owners will be spending more time interacting with their animals.
Cats still need access outdoors or to a clean litter tray, and outdoor cats can go in and out as normal until the government says otherwise.
1. Play games with your cat such as run and fetch
2. Design a new toy for your cat to play with
3. Tablet games for cats. You can download apps that feature moving fish and mice to stimulate your cat.
1. Have a treasure hunt with treats
2. Continue to play games such as tug of war or fetch. This can still be done indoors
3. Build a cosy doggy den for them to play in with their toys
4. Teach them new tricks.
Tips for keeping your pets safe
Practice good hygiene
If you haven’t tested positive or been asked to self-isolate then continue to interact with your pets as normal but adopt good hygiene practices including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching them, their food, toys, and bedding.
Limit physical contact
Again, avoid being kissed or licked and sharing food with your pet
Be mindful when going on walks
The Government advice states that you can go for a walk as long as you stay two metres away from others.
Stock up on pet supplies
Prepare a kit with essential supplies to have on hand in the event of illness or an emergency.
Your emergency kit should include:
- A 30 day supply of your pets’ medications, as well as at least two weeks’ worth of food.
- Litter boxes with litter for cats
- Extra leashes & collars
- Vaccination & medical record
- Photos & descriptions of each pet
- Stickers you can attach to your pet tags with the information of your intended destination and outside temporary contact information
If you do have the virus
Have another member of your household take care of feeding, playing & walking your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a face mask; don’t share food, kiss or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.
Pet owners should have a plan in place for their pets in an emergency. These plans should include:
- Arrange for trusted friends or family who could care for your pets if you become sick, require a period of quarantine or a hospital stay.
- Compile an information pet care pack with the following: habits; feeding instructions; location of pet supplies, pet carrier, etc; medical conditions and medications to be given; veterinarian contact information; medical and vaccination records and behavioural tendencies.
- Make sure your pets are wearing proper identification at all times, with your mobile number or a number of a friend or relative.
- Having your pets microchipped can further protect your pet and help identify them if they were to become lost.
Phone your vet for advice.
If you have any concerns about your pet or your pet shows signs of ill health, some practices are still open. Please do not visit the vet but phone for advice. They should still be able to hold consultations over the phone.