Coronavirus and Companion Animals: Q&A
Despite the fact that one dog in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus there is no need to fear. Experts agree there’s virtually no chance of cats and dogs transmitting the virus to humans.
1- Can dogs and cats be infected with the virus?
The short answer is ‘no’. Companion animals are not affected by this disease according to the most recent news by the WHO. The virus has specific receptors to our cells and it’s only transmitted from human to human.
2- How can I manage my animal’s care if I am quarantined?
If you have any symptoms, it is best to entrust your dog or cat with a friend or family member, to reduce the risk of exposing them to the virus. Keep them away from other animals just in case and limit your direct contact with them, especially in terms of contact with your face and their snout. Disinfect and ventilate the rooms frequently and thoroughly, and try not to stay in the same room for too long.
3- How can I safely take my dog for a walk?
There is still a lot of conflicting information circulating about the persistence of the virus in the environment. What is fairly certain is that the virus is not particularly resistant to the heat and sun rays. Also, there are some indications that rain has a cleansing effect. When taking your dog for a walk, choose areas that are exposed to the sun or purposefully set out in the rain. Avoid gatherings and always keep a distance of at least 1-2 meters from other people and animals. Check with your municipality if your regular dog walking areas and parks are still accessible.
4- Do I have to disinfect my dog after returning from the walk?
Animals lick themselves clean and ingest everything that’s on their fur. Be careful with the products you use and steer clear from gels or aggressive substances. When you return from the walk, clean their legs with a disinfectant wipe first and then wipe it down with a moist cloth to remove any residue of the disinfectant. Don't forget to reward your little companion after this tedious operation, it will make it easier next time you impose it!
Keep in mind that the virus enters our body through the eyes, nose and mouth, so thoroughly wash your hands and avoid direct contact with people.
5- Can my cat still go outside?
Of course! Your cat can continue to go out as usual. They wouldn’t understand the sudden restrictions and their mood would be affected greatly. It is important to clean them as they come in. Use a disinfectant wipe on their paws and then a wet wipe to soak up any remnants from the disinfectant. They most probably won’t like the procedure so make sure to reward them, it will make it easier next time!
When you are finished, wash your hands well and as a rule, do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
6- Can my dog continue to lick my face and hands?
It’s good to maintain a certain distance between you and your companion animal in general. Dogs can transmit several kinds of bacteria and parasites, like salmonella for example. WHO recommends washing your hands after petting or touching your animal, and we strongly advise against putting yourself in close proximity to their snout or having your face licked, not because they can transmit the coronavirus to us but because we could possibly expose them to it!
6- Do you have any good nutritional advice for my dog?
Your pet is at risk of gaining weight during this period of confinement and social distancing. It’s important that we include our animals in our newly devised routines. We need to do this together with them and this might lead to some moments of positive reinforcement with snacks. We advise to reduce your dog’s daily intake by 10% to 20%, without getting rid of small snacks. You need the snacks for encouraging good behaviour and you don’t want them to feel punished. You could also think of reducing the meal portions in such a way that they get three meals a day instead of two. By dividing the ration, your animal won’t be lacking anything whilst being able to enjoy more meal times throughout the day. In addition, take the opportunity to give wet food a go, which is low in calories but very filling.
If your dog is not used to wet food, introduce them slowly by gradually integrating it in the diet, by replacing one of the 3 meals with wet food, or by mixing 1 to 2 tablespoons of wet food in the kibble.
7- I work from home but my dog is restless and barks all the time
The current situation and resulting changes in routine is likely to affect our companion animals because it disrupts their habits. Like us, they can suffer from stress and anxiety. Dogs need to be physically as well as mentally exhausted in order to thrive. Just making them run across a field once a day is not enough. Studies have pointed out that mental exhaustion is important for a dog to relax. Space to roam around might be limited at the moment but creativity knows no boundaries. Be inventive and develop some games: teach them a new trick or introduce hide and seek by hiding food around the house. You could even set up an obstacle course with chairs. Playing with them will not only stimulate physical activity but also keeps them mentally active, providing a sense of calm and peacefulness.
8- Can I still take my companion animal to the vet?
Veterinary practices are amongst the few places that remain open for now. However, make sure to call your veterinarian before traveling, regardless of the reason for your visit.
Depending on the urgency of the situation, the professional may decide to maintain or postpone your appointment to a later date. If the appointment is maintained, be punctual and keep the advised distance of 1-2 metres to other people at the clinic, including the medical staff.
Take care and keep safe!
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*Please note that all this information was correct at the time it was published but it’s subject to change, always keep on top of the latest news and don’t hesitate to contact us.