Taking Care of Dogs and Cats During Self-Isolation
As many of us are spending more time indoors, it’s important that we do everything in our power to keep our animal companions – and ourselves – healthy and safe. So how can we make sure we take the best care of our cats and dogs while stuck at home? Here are some tips and tricks for keeping them feeling their best:
- Don’t allow people who are known or suspected to be sick with COVID-19 to come into close contact with animals. This is because their fur can become contaminated with and act as a “reservoir” for the virus. Scientists discovered that two-thirds of cats and 43% of dogs living with an infected person were found to have produced antibodies against the virus, so animals are also at risk of catching the disease. If you test positive for or become sick with COVID-19 and have an animal companion, it’s best to have another member of the household care for that animal while you have symptoms.
- Avoid touching any animals who are not members of your household.
- Never use facemasks or disinfectants on animals, as they can lead to severe distress and even death. Simply practise good hygiene and wash your hands after touching animals.
- Don’t stockpile unnecessarily, as this results in shortages for others – but do plan ahead and ensure you have adequate food for your companion animals (approximately two to three weeks’ worth).
- Don’t cage or crate your animals. Let them move around your home as they normally would.
- If your animal companion requires special medical attention, like medication or a specific kind of food, speak to your vet about getting extra supplies.
- Seek veterinary attention if your animal companion is unwell. Most practices are open and seeing animals in need of urgent attention, and if your usual surgery is closed, it’ll be able to direct you to one that can help.
- Assist neighbours who may not be able to shop for or walk their companion animals.
- Donate companion animal food to food banks.
- Arrange for your dogs to have as much time outside as possible. Use your coffee, tea, or lunch break to walk them around the neighbourhood while keeping your distance from others.
- Take extra care in keeping your animal companions safe and secure, as if they go missing, you may not be able to look for them as effectively.
- Play with your companions! Put small treats inside a bit of scrunched-up newspaper and hide it inside a cardboard box for dogs and cats to sniff out. Tie a length of string to the end of a stick and dangle or drag it for your cat to play with under your supervision. Freeze peanut butter in a hollow chew toy for the ultimate dog ice lolly. The possibilities are endless – just make sure you give them as much attention as you can.
- Play music for your animal companions. Did you know dogs love reggae? A study found it keeps them calm and happy in the most stressful of situations. If your pup is exhibiting nervous behaviour, try playing Bob Marley and the Wailers’ greatest hits – these canine-friendly tunes should help your dog feel relaxed.
- Listen to the PETA US podcast interview with PETA’s Dr Samantha Saunders on animal companions and COVID-19:Listen Now
Working From Home? Consider Fostering an Animal
Local shelters are most likely feeling the impact of this pandemic, too. We encourage you to foster a dog or cat if you’re able to. Since many of us are working from home now, taking in an animal temporarily could make a big difference to shelters by relieving the pressure they’re under.
Looking after your animal companions is extremely important, but so is looking out for all other animals! Our work doesn’t stop just because we’re trapped indoors – in fact, we can do so much from behind our screens. And it’s the perfect time for a resurgence in empathy towards our fellow humans and other animals.
To this end, we’ve put together a guide showing you how to be an effective animal rights activist from the comfort of your own home: