The last few months have been strange enough for humans, but what about our furry friends? Our pets and ourselves are animals alike who have a relentless need for socialisation and engagement, which is what our pets have had during lockdown. Our cats and dogs and everything else in between have been graced with our presence day in day out with plenty of attention and cuddles.
But have you considered the impact this will have on our cats and dogs when things return to normality? There are many things to consider, so, in this article we’ll look at whether we can pass or contract Covid-19 from our companions, and what an animal with the flu looks like so you know whether to take them for a visit to their veterinary GP, and post-lockdown separation anxiety.
Basically, this is a pet guide covering the most important considerations right now. We miss the days about worrying about whether our cats need a flea bomb or if our dogs need more toys too…
Can my cat or dog contract Covid-19?
In late July, the Guardian reported that a female Siamese cat had become the first animal in the UK to contract Covid-19, leaving many pet owners concerned that they could pass the virus to their furry companions. Experts are advising owners not to kiss their pets or share food with them in a bid to curb infecting our four-legged friends, and to practice very careful hygiene. For example, if you cough or sneeze, make sure you wash your hands before handling your pets.
We’re here to resolve any qualms you may have about your pets and Covid-19 to make sure you’re aware of the symptoms, however unlikely, to keep your mind at rest. We know how important our pets are to us so staying informed and education is the best possible approach.
It’s worth noting that although it’s suspected that Covid-19 likely came from an animal, animals aren’t playing a significant role in the transmission of the virus — there are only a few cats and dogs around the world who have tested positive, and there isn’t any evidence to suggest that they can infect us. It’s best to be safe than sorry and keep all animals healthy. Limit contact with animals that aren’t your own too.
So, what do Covid-19 symptoms look like in an animal?
Pets with Covid-19 may display symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
Source: Shutterstock, by Hannamariah
Should I take my pet to the vets?
If you suspect your pet has Covid-19:
- Call your vet to discuss next steps.
- If they are diagnosed, isolate the pet from everyone else including other pets.
- Avoid contact with the pet including petting, snuggling, kissing, licking, and sharing food and bedding.
- Do not attempt to wash your pet with chemicals, disinfectants, alcohol, or any other products not suitable for animal use.
- If you need to walk your dog, limit to bathroom breaks only and stay six feet from others. Don’t let anyone touch your dog and stay near your home.
- Don’t let your cat roam outside.
- Wear gloves when cleaning up after your pet and seal faecal or litterbox waste in a seal bag when disposing. Wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately after.
- If your pet’s symptoms worsen or new ones develop, call your vet. Particularly including difficulty breathing.
- Some vets may need follow-up testing — isolation can end when it has been at least 14 days since their positive test.
Post-lockdown separation anxiety
Like we said, we’ve been spending a lot of time with our pets recently. Great, right? It’s been fun for all involved but when things return to normal, it’ll be our furry loved ones who suffer the most.
Separation anxiety is triggered when a dog is separated from its owner, which makes the dog feel distressed. Symptoms are less obvious in felines, often displaying symptoms such as vocalising, refusing to eat, performing their business not in their litter tray, and following their owner around from room to room. In dogs, the symptoms include:
- Destructiveness. Your dog will chew an item that you recently came into contact with that still carries your scent.
- Howling and barking. Your neighbours can inform you of this.
- Physiological indications of fear such as an increase in heart rate, breathing, panting, and salivating.
- Trembling, pacing, whining, and repetitive behaviours
- In extreme cases, your dog might self-mutilate and vomit
How to help your dog or cat with separation anxiety
The most important thing to consider is that you should never leave your cat or dog alone for too long unless if they’re used to it since being a pup or kitten. Some important tips include:
- Try not to make a big deal out of leaving and coming back home to your pet, calmly pet them instead so they don’t get worked up.
- Teach your pet a word or sign so they know you’ll return.
- Consider purchasing over-the-counter calming products that can help reduce feelings of fear and anxiety.
- Give them lots to do when you’re away, whether this is a toy or scratch post.
- Leave music or the radio on so they aren’t in silence and have some background noise to distract them.
- Give them treats in a puzzle feeder to stimulate them and keep their brains engaged as boredom can lead to destructive behaviour.
- A balanced and nutritious diet
Source: Shutterstock, by V.Nemtsev
Now’s an important time to look after our pets more than ever. If you’re concerned about your pet, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice from your vet!