COVID-19 has affected all our lives, and pets aren’t immune from the upheaval. Many people have noticed some pet behaviour change during the pandemic, perhaps as a result of altered habits or simply because pets are picking up on our stress.
As pet owners, the health of our household friends is one of the most important things in our lives, especially in a year as topsy-turvy as this one.
So, how can we reduce the COVID impact on pets and make sure they’re as healthy as ever?
Can I Take My Pet to the Vets During Lockdown?
Veterinary practices aren’t required to close under any of the COVID restrictions we’ve seen so far because they’re classed as essential services. It isn’t quite business as usual, but like us, vets are working hard across the UK to be there for pet owners who need their support.
If your pet is in an emergency situation or they’re in pain, you should absolutely contact your usual veterinary practice to find out what their procedures are right now. Some practices are centring emergencies at one surgery while many are operating a remote consultation service to check if they need to see the pet in person.
At Croft, we’ve diagnosed many pets through pictures and phone consultations this year, putting their owners’ minds at rest or making plans for COVID-safe veterinary treatment. We’ve also ensured our vaccine programme for pets is still running, whilst making sure we follow all safety procedures in the process.
Neutering is another area where pet owners are understandably confused about whether they can get the usual care from their veterinary surgery.
Again, at Croft, we’re neutering pets when there’s a pressing reason to do so. For example, opposite sex siblings living together need to be neutered urgently before anything happens, we’ll book them in for their operations.
What is the COVID Guidance for Vets?
Just like all sectors, veterinary practices have made some changes to comply with government guidelines.
You can expect to find enhanced safety procedures at your practice, including:
- Fewer staff in the practice than usual with some support staff working from home
- Enhanced cleaning procedures such as more sanitiser within the practice
- Staff are required to wear full Personal Protective Equipment
- Clients are not allowed into the practice
- Pick-up and drop-off procedures to avoid close contact between staff and clients
The COVID impact on veterinary practices makes it more complicated for staff to do their jobs, but animal health and welfare is essential.
So, where it’s possible for practices to change their procedures by offering, as we’ve already mentioned, remote consultations, they should do so. Just as every other essential service during the coronavirus pandemic, veterinary practices have adapted to deal with these extraordinary circumstances. The team at Croft, just like practice teams across the country, are committed to limiting the COVID impact on pets and supporting owners in every way possible – we’re just having to find more creative ways around it these days.
Are Animals, Such as Pets, Unaffected by the Coronavirus?
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, pet owners were understandably searching the internet, asking questions like, “Can dogs get coronavirus?” At the same time, there were scare stories published across the web, worrying pet owners and causing confusion.
It’s true that, in rare circumstances, it’s possible for animals to contract coronavirus. We’ve heard a lot lately about the mink problem in Denmark, where the minks have been exposed by infected humans and have then passed the virus between themselves.
However, it’s important to remember that’s it rare for pets to contract coronavirus and, if they do, they generally only show mild symptoms and quickly recover. Plus, there is no evidence that coronavirus passes between pets or that pets then transmit the virus back to humans.
Even so, government advice recommends:
Washing your hands before and after contact with your pet or its food and bedding
You shouldn’t share food with your pet
Avoiding close contact with a pet when self-isolating
Pet owners are obviously concerned about the health and welfare of their pets, but it’s crucial to remember there’s no evidence our pets are badly affected by coronavirus.
Is it Possible to Catch the Coronavirus from a Pet?
As we’ve already mentioned, domestic pets in the UK haven’t been shown to transmit coronavirus to humans, so any scare stories should be taken with a pinch of salt. If there is ever any evidence of pet to owner transmission, proper advice will be issued through the government and your veterinary practice.
Another common question asked of vets and practice staff in normal times is, “Can you catch a virus from a dog or other household pet?” The evidence here is a little more complicated because, yes, some viruses can be passed between pets and humans, and these can affect children more than adults.
If you’re concerned about an illness your pet has which might pass to a human, contact your veterinary practice and ask for advice.
Exercise During the Coronavirus is Essential for Pets and People
Fear of exposing pets to coronavirus and general uncertainty about social distancing has led some people to limit their pets’ activities during the coronavirus crisis. For example, some dog owners haven’t been taking their dogs for walks or cat owners have been keeping their usually active cats inside. As a consequence of this, they’re noticing some pet behaviour change because the animals aren’t getting the exercise they’re used to or they’re disrupted by the change in routine.
To limit the COVID impact on pets, we’d always recommend that you let them get their usual exercise wherever possible. For dog owners, especially, taking their dogs out for safe, socially distanced walks benefits their health as much as their pet’s.
Coronavirus has definitely changed the way we do things for the moment but looking after our pets’ health is still a top priority for all pet owners and veterinary practices across the UK. Let’s work together to keep them happy and healthy.