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The pandemic and our pets

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  • RSPCA Australia
  • Monday, 27 September 2021

The pandemic can be hugely disruptive for all of us, including our pets. If you or a close contact contracts COVID-19, or if you’re self-isolating, there are some simple precautions you can take to keep them safe. 

The human-animal bond people share with their pets is very important and can provide much-needed support, comfort and companionship to people in these difficult times. So, if possible, people and their pets should stay together for the benefit of both. 


Preparation is key 

The news that you have to isolate, either because you have contracted COVID-19 or you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive, is usually fairly unexpected. But, if you think there is a chance you might have to isolate at some point, there are some simple steps you can take to prepare. These are all good things for pet owners to consider, pandemic or not. 

Make sure you have adequate supplies for your pet – including at least a month’s supply of food and medication. If you need to get supplies and can’t leave the house, try and order products online (many retailers are still able to supply essential products like pet food even during lockdowns), or ask friends, family or neighbours to help but avoid direct contact. 

Ensure your pet is up to date on their vaccinations, in case it’s necessary for them to go to someone else’s home or a boarding facility. All medications and instructions should be documented (including dosages and how often to give them), and ensure you have appropriate carriers or crates available in case your pets need to be transported. Also check that your pets are free of fleas (treat them for fleas if necessary) and that they have been wormed within the last three months. 

You should also make a plan in the event that you need to be hospitalised or have to quarantine or isolate in a facility away from your home, including pre-arranging for someone to transport your animals to where they can be looked after. 


If you’re isolating 

Animals can be stressed by changes in routine, so if you’re isolating at home, try to keep as close to your normal routine as possible; or, familiarise your animals with a new routine and stick to it.  

If you can take care of your dog’s toileting needs but you just can’t exercise them normally, your dog can still stay at home with you. This is easier if you have a garden, as you can just let your dog out to toilet. There are lots of things you can do to keep your dog happy and active inside your property if you’re isolating, such as feeding your dog with food puzzle toys, do some reward-based training, and spend plenty of time playing with them. 

You should consider having someone else look after your dog if you’re self-isolating and, because of mandatory requirements, can’t leave your property to manage their toileting needs.  

Keeping your cat safe at home is always best but it’s a must if you’re isolating, as long as they have all the necessary supplies such as litter trays, food, water bowls, toys and hiding places. 


If you’re sick 

Sick people should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. If you need to care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them. Also follow the same advice as for interacting with people who are not sick – for example, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. 

Pets who have been in contact with people with COVID-19 should not interact with people outside the household – think of them as being in self-isolation like you. Although it is unusual, some animals can get sick if infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. 

This can be a stressful time for everyone, including our pets. Above all, make sure that you follow state and territory government advice, and visit our Knowledgebase for more advice on self-isolating with pets or what to do if you contract COVID-19

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