How to best care for your pets during COVID-19
SPCA wants to reassure Kiwi pet owners how best to care for their companion animals during this uncertain time.
Currently, there is no evidence that companion animals can infect humans with COVID-19 virus, and SPCA urges owners not abandon their pets. If you haven’t tested positive or are self-isolating, then continue to interact with your pets as normal but wash hands thoroughly before and after touching them, their food, toys, and bedding.
Your pets may be impacted if you or members of your family test positive for the virus or need to self-isolate. The worst time to try and make arrangements for your pet’s care is when you’re already sick.
SPCA encourages all owners to plan for the care for their pets. This includes:
- Setting up an arrangement with a friend or family member, pet sitter or boarding facility to provide care should you or someone in your household become ill.
- Making sure your pet is up to date on their vaccinations, in the event boarding becomes necessary.
- Ensuring all your pet’s medications are documented with dosages and administering instructions, and a 30-day supply. Including a prescription from your veterinarian is also helpful.
- Ensuring all pets have identification including a collar with their current identification tags and a registered microchip (check to make sure your contact details are up to date!)
- Creating a list of useful contact details such as your vet and pet insurance provider.
- Having two weeks’ worth of food, crates and extra supplies on hand. If you’re not able to go to the supermarket or vet, ask a friend or neighbour if they can collect items for you, or call and see if delivery options are available.
Caring for pets during self-isolation
If you are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19, arrange for another person to care for your pet if possible. If you are unable to do this, as a precaution you should avoid contact with your pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food with them.
If your cat normally goes outdoors, it’s advised to keep them indoors for people who are self-isolating because:
- They, or someone in their household, has a confirmed COVID-19 infection
- They or someone in their household, has known exposure to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 infection
- They or someone in their household is in an at-risk group (i.e. over 70 years old or with a pre-existing health condition such as chronic respiratory disease - including severe asthma, bronchiectasis and COPD - and those who are immunocompromised)
SPCA has lots of great advice on keeping cats happy and healthy as ‘stay at home’ felines here.
If you are voluntarily self-isolating, you can still take your dog for walks but avoid places where social contact is likely, maintain a 2m distance from other people, don’t let people pet your dog and follow good hygiene practices (avoid touching your face and wash your hands after your walk).
You can replace your dog’s usual exercise with other activities such as:
- Introducing food puzzles to make mealtimes more interesting
- Playing fetch or tug with your dog
- Teaching them a new trick
- Hide treats around the garden or around the house and send them off in search of them.
If you have any worries about your pet's health during self-isolation, give your vet a call for advice, but don't visit the surgery in person.