If you should become exposed to the novel coronavirus or develop COVID-19, you may not be able to leave your home for a while. While we’ve seen how the thought of that propels many to run for the toilet paper aisle, anyone who has a pet will probably be more worried about how they can properly care for their animal companion.
Having a plan and an emergency preparedness kit for your pet is key should you become ill, incapacitated, or completely quarantined for any length of time. Here are some ideas to get you started:
If you have COVID-19 and are recovering at home
While presently health authorities do not believe pets can give the virus to humans, there is some anecdotal evidence that humans have passed the virus to animals. To protect your pets, you will need to restrict your contact with them. This means no petting, snuggling, kissing/licking, or sharing of food. It also means another member of your household should care for your pets while you’re sick. Pet bedding, food and water bowls, collars, leashes and toys need to be thoroughly washed as well. If you must care for your pet while you’re ill, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
Know your neighbors and have a pet care back-up plan
It’s important for you to identify a designated guardian for your pets if you cannot physically care for them or if you end up needing assistance with walking, feeding and other pet care. This person should be trusted to access your home and help care for your pets or even transport them to a boarding facility, family member, or friend who is your back-up caregiver. It’s important that you talk with these people in advance so you know they are willing to help with your pets in an emergency.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that if you are sick with the virus, you’ll need to make sure any designated caregivers are protected when they retrieve your pets so they don’t become exposed.
Microchip, tag and take pictures of your pets
Let’s say you become very ill and need to go to the hospital—or maybe you’re unable to care for your pet at home because you are sick. Your animal companion may end up with a designated caregiver for a time, and it is quite possible that pet will be frightened, disoriented, and might even run off.
The same is true if you have someone else coming to walk your dog while you recuperate. Proper identification and good, clear pictures of the pet to post will increase the chances the animal will be found and returned.
Have a “grab & go” kit ready
This kit will not only make things much easier for appointed caregivers, but also for you if you find yourself quarantined and unable to leave the house for supplies and medications. It’s important to have all these items together in one place, ideally in an easily transportable box or bag.
- A weeks’ supply of food
- Litter box/litter or poop bags
- Sturdy leashes/harnesses
- Medical records and veterinarian contact info
- Toys/Chews to stay busy
Putting a plan in place to make sure your pet is cared for in case you are ill, unavailable or quarantined is extremely important, and not just for them—it will also give you peace of mind during a very difficult time.