More stories and advice on animal care

With the world focused on Covid-19, uncertainty has left many pet owners nervous and worried about what it means for their beloved pets. According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, dogs can't catch or transmit Covid-19. However, this does not remove the possibility that their fur could harbour the virus in the same way a door handle, lift button or card machine can. Therefore, it is still essential to understand how you can keep your pets and the rest of the family safe and healthy during this period.

Routine

Just like people, animals are comforted by routine. With more family members in the house than usual, and for longer periods, it is essential to develop and establish a new daily routine that everyone is comfortable with. These new habits will give your pet some much-needed structure and will also help break up the day for family members who are working or studying from home.

The only aspects of your pet’s daily routine that should stay the same are meal times. Portion sizes for dogs, however, should be reduced. Not only are we more prone to snack when we’re at home and boredom strikes, it is also tempting to overfeed our pets and give them treats during the day. However, overfeeding your pet can lead to long-term health problems such as obesity, especially when their exercise has been reduced.

Exercise

For dog owners, current social distancing regulations no longer permit owners to take dogs on the daily walks they are used to. However, to keep up with their mental agility, perhaps teach them some new tricks, carve out extra time to play with them during the day or invest in toys specially designed to keep them busy. Once restrictions on leaving your home are lifted, extra steps must be taken when going on daily walks, particularly while we are following social distancing guidelines.

Try going for walks early in the morning and later in the evening to avoid, as much as possible, contact with others, and be sure to pick a location that is dog friendly. Abide by UAE regulations and keep your dog on a lead. If you happen to come across fellow dog walkers or passers-by during your walk, politely decline requests for them to stroke your dog. Also, avoid petting dogs other than your own. When you return home, you should clean your dog’s paws and fur with animal-friendly wipes to further reduce the risk of bringing germs into your home.

General hygiene

Keep up hygienic measures you would usually take when handling your pets, as well as following the guidelines that have been set up by WHO. Wash your hands with soap or use an anti-bacterial hand sanitiser, especially after spending time with your pet and before handling food.

Going to the vet

Should you your pet need routine medical treatment or if your pet is sick, injured and in need of emergency care, make an appointment over the phone first. The medical team will then be able to assess the situation and a teleconsultation can be conducted or medication can be delivered if the animal has a pre-existing or routine health condition already on file. If an in-person appointment is required, be sure to apply for the necessary permit allowing you to leave your home. Alternatively, collection and drop off can be arranged to comply with social distancing regulations.

Once you are able to leave your home and an in-person appointment is necessary, confirm with the reception team what current sanitary and social distancing procedures are in place at the clinic and a member of the team can greet you at your car.

If you do find yourself in the position where you are required to self-isolate for medical reasons, these isolation measures should be extended to your pet. You should avoid all contact, where possible, during your quarantine period – just as you would with the human members of your family. To avoid any further stress, it is always best to have a contingency care plan in place for your pet to be looked after by a friend, extended family member or a boarding facility. Ensure that your pet's vaccines are up-to-date and have crates, food, and extra supplies, such as medication, on hand for a quick and smooth temporary rehoming. In case of any emergencies, contact your nearest vet as soon as possible.

Dr Sara Elliott is a veterinary surgeon at the British Veterinary Hospital, Dubai. Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.