COVID-19 Crisis Action Plan for Pet Parents: Preparing Your Pet and Yourself for the Coronavirus Pandemic
India stands on the rising curve of COVID-19, the government and citizens bracing themselves for what is to come. The Prime Minister has announced a lockdown in the country, calling for Resolve (sankalp) and Restraint (sanyam), and stating the foolishness in underestimating the virus and considering oneself safe. None of us is innately safe from the Coronavirus, truly. Anyone and everyone can be affected. Precaution is the only shot we have at safety.
The situation is terrifying, we won’t lie. However, sanity lies in preparing not panicking.
“Panic implies that there is no rational thought taking place. That we are frozen and incapable of adjusting. Powerless to logic, and subject to seemingly unthinkable behavior” – Anthony Scaramucci
We must make the necessary arrangements for the safety of everyone in our family – including our pets. Until this was published, there have only been two cases of dogs that were tested positive for the Coronavirus in Hong Kong. The WHO, however, stands by its statement that pets like dogs and cats cannot be affected by or transmit the Coronavirus.
But what happens to your pet in case you are infected, and quarantined or hospitalized?
While we are all hoping for the best, and being optimistic – one must be prepared for the worst, or even the slightly bad. When China went into lockdown, the country saw an epidemic of abandoned pets. So many, that the shelters could barely manage to accommodate them all. In India, cases of pets being deserted after parents were quarantined have started surfacing already.
We cannot stress enough on how important it is to have an action plan for your pet, in case you are infected and need quarantine or hospitalization.
The COVID-19 Crisis Action Plan for Pet Parents is the recommended contingency plan you should implement, so your pet does not end up roaming the streets abandoned or worse when you are suffering.
It is an easy 3-Step Process that you can start working on today.
The COVID-19 Crisis Action Plan for Pet Parents
Step 1: PICK A CHAMPION
A Champion is a person you appoint to look after your pet’s needs when you aren’t available. The Champion can foster your pet, feed them, walk them, and take care of their basic needs until you are back. Given the unpredictability of the situation, it is advisable to have one primary Champion and a couple of more for backup.
5 Qualities of an Ideal Champion for your Pet
- Is someone you trust
- Is a pet parent, or loves pets and is comfortable looking after them
- Lives in your neighborhood (ideally your neighbor)
- Has the capacity to accommodate your pet and their needs for a minimum of 14 days or more
- Shares a healthy relationship with your pet
Make a list of potential champions and contact them to see if they’d be willing to help you out. Be honest with them about your pet’s basics, special needs, medical conditions, behavior, and quirks. Know that lying or hiding anything at this point defies the purpose of the whole activity – the well-being of your pet.
Let your pet spend some time with the Champion so they get comfortable around them and are not anxious. Have the Champion offer them treats and pet them. Allow them to play games, and even learn basic obedience at the Champion’s command. This will help the two out immensely if they have to spend long durations of time together in the future.
Step 2: PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT
Your pet’s emergency kit is at the heart of their well-being during the trying times. Think of it as a survival kit. Use a case, bag, backpack, box or any other container that can hold all the items in and is easy to carry. Visibly label this bag with your pet’s name (eg: Bruno’s Emergency Kit). Keep the kit in an easily accessible place and inform the Champion(s) about its location. You could also just leave the kit at the Champion’s place to reduce last minute hustle.
Your Pet’s Emergency Kit must contain the following:
- Food & Bowls
Pack non-perishable food for about 14 days or pack a few meals’ worth and give your Champion the information about your pet’s food so they could buy it later. Given that there may be a shortage of packaged pet foods in the market, list down a few food items that your dog or cat likes to eat. This would enable the Champion to arrange food for them, no matter what.
- Medicines & Drugs
If your pet suffers from a medical condition and requires administration of medicines or drugs, keep these in the kit too. Don’t forget to include a copy of the prescription and a note on how and when the medicines are to be given.
- Important Documents
Keep a copy of adoption documents, vaccination and medical records in the kit. The stress of such a situation can have traumatic effects on your pet. These documents will help the Champion know them in depth and take appropriate measures when necessary.
- Collar & Leash
A spare collar and leash that suits your pet can be extremely useful. Also ensure that your pet is wearing a collar ID at all times that contains correct and updated contact information. If possible, get a spare ID that contains more information than usual – your pet’s name, your name, contact number(s), locality, rabies vaccination and sterilization information. If you suspect yourself going into quarantine or being hospitalized, attach this ID to your pet’s collar.
- Familiar Items
Items your pet is familiar with, like toys, a blanket, food bowls, etc. will help reduce their anxiety and help them adjust easier. Toys that provide some mental stimulation like puzzles, games, etc. will prove useful to keep your pet stimulated in times when they could miss out on walks and other physical activity.
Please advise the Champion to follow all safety precautions while handling your pet’s emergency kit. The items in the kit may act as fomite and carry the virus along. Due sanitization is recommended before taking the kit or other belongings into their house.
Step 3: PREPARE YOUR PET
How well your action plan works in reality is going to depend a lot on your pet! However committed your Champion be, things are going to get really difficult if your pet just does not want to cooperate! Use the time during the lockdown to work on your pet so that the process is easier on them.
- Basic Grooming & Hygiene
Spend a day treating your pet to an all-round clean up! Start with brushing their teeth and trimming overgrown nails. Look for any ticks or fleas while giving them a nice full-body rub. Brush their coat and give them a bath (clean crevices and corners carefully and thoroughly). Maintaining basic hygiene with your pet becomes even more essential in times like these.
- Mental Stimulation & Anxiety Reduction
While you two are spending most of your time indoors, indulge in some mind bending activities. Play puzzles, treasure hunts with treats, some scent play. Of course, these do not substitute physical activity, and you should also play physically exerting games. Mental games help alleviate stress and anxiety.
If your pet gets severely anxious without you around, try finding solutions to this behavior. Explore essential oils that may work to calm them, or music that soothes them.
Include your Champion in this step, if possible. The more time your pet spends with the Champion, the more comfortable they both will be with each other.
READ: 10 Ways to Give Your Dog More Mental Stimulation
- Toilet Training
If you parent an adult dog, chances are they are trained to do their business outdoors. However in a case of a complete lockdown this may or may not be possible. Start training your pet to relieve themselves indoors.
READ: Potty-Pad Training Your Dog by Animal Humane Society
Going through this process prepares you and your pet to not just face COVID-19 but any other epidemic, natural calamity or unfortunate events in the future.
You can download the following infographic to share with your friends or family.
We do not wish for anyone to go through a time where they need a Champion to take over. But if it does happen, you’ll be happy you planned and were prepared. The satisfaction of knowing that your child is in safe hands, being taken care of and not roaming the streets, starving, and risking their life is unfathomable.
Be a part of the COVID-19 Crisis Action Plan for Pet Parents today. Pledge your participation and let the pet parents around you know so they can be a part too. Let us all get together and do what we must for the safety and well-being of ourselves, our families and also our pets.
FOR INFORMATION ONLY – NOT VETERINARY CARE
DawgieBowl operates this online information and opinion blog for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this blog are researched from popular journals & books, online articles, and research papers. DawgieBowl does not claim ownership to the images or videos on the blog unless mentioned. Images or videos are collected from the public domain, and the rights to them lie with the photographer or copyright owner. By reading this blog or using any of the information you expressly acknowledge and understand that there are risks and limitations associated with any advice, recipes, formulas, and/or products suggested or endorsed. DawgieBowl, its parent entities, and stakeholders are not responsible for any loss, injury, claim, liability, or damage related to your use of this website, or any other site or product linked to this website, whether from errors or omissions in the content of our website or any other linked site, from downtime on the website or from any other use of this blog.
The content of this blog is NOT intended to substitute professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If your pet is sick, injured, or in need of medical attention, please contact your veterinarian or local emergency animal hospital immediately. Never disregard professional veterinary advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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