“Pets are a big part of our families and it is important to make sure they stay happy and healthy during these difficult times. Isolation for us can mean some big changes for our pets and they won’t understand why. We hope this advice will help owners help their pets, while looking after themselves too.”
This heart-warming statement was made by Chris Laurence, chair of the Canine and Feline Sector Group. To help pet owners, representatives from the UK’s best loved national pet charities and animal experts have been putting together some top tips and advice, as part of a Comfort in Crisis initiative.
To put pet owners’ minds at rest, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) has issued this statement: “The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) advise there is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats could spread or transmit the virus that causes COVID-19.”
Plenty of pet food to go round
The body, which represents the UK pet food industry, also calls on pet owners to shop sensibly, advising there is enough pet food for all. Michael Bellingham, PFMA Chief Executive, explains: “Thanks to the work of our PFMA members and recognition by Government, there is a good supply of pet food. The PFMA represents over 90% of pet food manufacturers in the UK and we are responsible for feeding a nation of around 50 million pets. Our members are working tirelessly across the pet food supply chain to ensure everybody continues to have access to nutritious, safe, and affordable pet foods during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Follow expert advice
However, there are sensible precautions we can all take, as outlined by pet charities and experts in the Comfort in Crisis initiative:
PROTECTING EACH OTHER
- Just like human hands, pet fur could carry the virus from one person to another.
- Wash hands well with soap after touching any pets or their belongings and avoid pet kisses – them and you.
- If your pet is sick or injured, call your vet before going to the surgery.
PRACTISE SOCIAL DISTANCING
- Each person in the household can walk your dog once a day, but…
- Keep you and your dog at least two metres from others.
- Avoid contact with other people’s pets.
- Ensure you have your pet’s normal supplies for 14 days and make only essential trips to the pet shop.
IF YOU ARE SELF ISOLATING
- Think about how you can provide for your pet’s needs.
- Dogs can be let out into your garden, or just outside your home, but keep your distance from others and minimise time outside.
- Can anyone else care for your pet if you are sick or in hospital?
- If your cat is used to staying in then keep them inside and clean their litter tray regularly. If you have an outdoor cat, try and minimise interactions with them.
HELPING EACH OTHER
- Can you safely help a vulnerable person in your community with their pet?
- Can you offer remote help to your local animal charity?
- Could you donate pet food to your local food bank?
- All animal charities will be impacted by this crisis – please consider donating to support their work.
Please note that advice may be subject to change, so regularly check Government guidance.
For more information, visit: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus
Dogs to the rescue?
It seems that man’s best friend could once again prove their worth – this time in the fight against coronavirus. The Medical Detection Dogs charity, which trains canines to detect the odour of human disease, believes ‘in principle’ they could detect COVID-19.
Working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University, the charity reports that dogs could be ready after just six weeks of training.
Reported on BBC online news, charity co-founder, Dr Claire Guest said: “We are looking into how we can safely catch the odour of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.” Once trained, the dogs would provide a detection service that is: “Fast, effective and non-invasive,” so that limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.
Prof Steve Lindsay, from Durham University’s Department of Biosciences, said detection dogs could be used at airports to rapidly identify people carrying the virus: “This would help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after we have brought the present epidemic under control.”
Dogs, yet again, we salute you!
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