Pet answers: pets in the time of coronavirus

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions

Can my pets get coronavirus?
At the time of writing this, there have been a couple of isolated cases where animals have tested positive for COVID-19. It appears that these particular animals were in contact with people that had tested positive and were showing symptoms but there is no current evidence that we can catch COVID-19 from our pets. We do suspect that they can act as ‘fomites’ in that they can carry the virus on their fur, in the same way that the virus can be present on doorknobs or surfaces. And so we would recommend continuing good hygiene practice when interacting and handling your pets. But this is just sensible advice! Pets can carry diseases that are transmissible to humans regardless and so we’d always advise you to wash your hands after handling your pets and try not to allow them to lick your face! At the practice, we’ve had many questions about cats and dogs contracting coronavirus and I’d probably better clarify something that has made things a little confusing. Cats and dogs can get a type of coronavirus and we’ve know this for a long time. However, this is a completely different version of coronavirus and has been around for years. It is NOT transmissible to humans and is a different strain to the COVID-19 we are currently worried about.

My dog is really struggling with me being at home all the time. And I can’t take her for as many walks as usual. How do I stop her from getting bored?
It’s really difficult, isn’t it! Our routines and lives have changed dramatically and it’s understandable that our pets are also struggling with these changes. We’re at home more but are much more restricted as to what we can do. I have some great top tips for keeping puppies and dogs entertained whilst on lockdown. • Keep routine as much as possible. Let them sleep, give them time-outs by themselves (a good chew in another room will help to settle them) and try to deter children from constantly bothering them. • Ban the bowl! Instead of putting their food in a bowl, use food toys or kitchen roll inner cardboard tubes to hide their meals in or try scattering their food around the garden. This keeps their noses and brains occupied! • Check in with your local dog trainer. A lot of them are offering online sessions or trick training seminars. They are also available for questions and advice. • Puppies can still have a great time socialising and actually being a bit hands off with people and dogs is a good thing at this age. Carry them or use a doggy pushchair to take them with you on your daily exercise and they can still experience so many important parts of socialisation without missing out. • Now’s a good time for some training! Talk to your dog trainer or vet about fireworks desensitisation or about practising your loose lead walking!

Is my vets still open?
Yes, yes, an overwhelming yes! We are still here. Wemay be restricting howwe interact with clients and offering lots more video and telephone consults but we are here. A lot of things have changed over the past few weeks and I have no idea how things may change in the next few weeks, but I know for sure that we will be still seeing animals and making sure that their welfare isn’t compromised. Many vet practices have delayed routine treatments such as vaccinations and neutering but this is usually on a case by case basis and we are available to offer you advice over the phone if you have any concerns about your pet. The only thing I would ask you to remember is that veterinary staff are under a lot of pressure to keep the practice running and seeing patients whilst also distancing and keeping themselves protected as much as possible. After all, we are all in this together, so stay safe and be kind.

Do you have a pet or animal health question? Send it to us at: Holly will endeavour to answer all questions, whether published or not!

Dr Holly Norman BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS, veterinary surgeon and practice partner at:

Peterborough Vets4Pets
231-233 St Paul’s Road
Tel: 01733 890777

Bretton Vets4Pets
Inside Pets at Home
Unit 2 The Bretton Centre
Peterborough, PE3 8DN
Tel: 01733 261094

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

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