COVID-19 and Your Pets - Andy the Vet Gives His Advice
Today we caught up with Andy the vet to discuss COVID-19 and how it affects our pets.
We touched on the following topics -
Can pets get COVID-19
How to exercise and stimulate our pets when we're in self-isolation
What to do if we have to go to the vets
plus much more
Hi, everyone, I'm Matt from Pure Pet Food and this is Andy the Vet. So, today, we're shooting this video just to really kind of touch on things all to do with our pets and the coronavirus. So, we're first of all going to touch a little bit kind of on some of the key questions that you've asked. Yesterday, we send out an email and also a post on social media. And we've requested if anyone wants any information answering with Andy to let us know. And we're going to ask those questions today. And then we're going to go a little bit into kind of some of the things that we can do around lifestyle if we're isolated, how can we exercise our pets? How can we keep them entertained? And then finally, we're just going to go into kind of some of the things from a veterinary perspective in the worst case, if our pets have to go to the vet, what does that look like now?
And so, Andy, you ready to really briefly just kind of introduce yourself and then maybe give us a bit of an update on kind of how we are dealing with the big changes going on around the coronavirus?
Andy: Yeah. So, I'm Andy, I'm a small animal vet. I’ve been a vet for 10 years ago. Oh, that's Louie in the background there. And I’ve been a small animal vet for 10 years. I work in general practice. I think in the last couple of days, it's really dawned on me, as well as everyone, I'm sure around the country and around the world, just how much of an impact this coronavirus is going to have on our daily lives both at home and also at work. So, there are lots of things happening at work to try and protect the clients…
Andy: …when they come in, and as well as being able to try and make sure that we continue providing our service for treatment for our pets, but also protecting the people that work there as well. So, it's just trying to get to grips with that reality in the last few days.
Andy: Yeah. Well, some of the questions we've had probably some that you expect, but I think it's probably worth going over them and getting those answered first, and then we can go into some of the other things that we've touched on. So, really to go straight into it, and Louie might show up every now and then. But to get straight into it, I guess the main question and one that we've had asked quite a few times is, can pets catch the virus?
Andy: Yeah. So, the answer to that is, at the moment, there's no evidence to suggest that our pets can catch this virus. There are coronaviruses that aren't related to this virus that can occur in cats and dogs. And, the virus that's causing the pandemic around the world there's no evidence to suggest that our pets can catch it.
Matt: And the next question is really is, can pets actually be a carrier of the virus?
Andy: Yeah. So, I guess what we're worried about is as pet owners is, 1, “Can our pets catch it? But also, can they spread it?” And I think you know, first off, like we said before, pets can't catch the disease. There’s no evidence to suggest that. It is a new disease so things do change from time to time, but at the moment, there's no evidence to suggest that. What we’re worried about there is a low risk that our pets can act as what we call fomites. Now, fomites are surfaces or objects that can transmit the disease. So, for instance, the scenario would be, if I were infected and I were to sneeze onto a surface, or if I were to sneeze onto my dogs’ fur, the virus could land on within them water particles in my sneeze. And then if someone that wasn't infected came along and either touched the surface or my dog's coat and then touched their face, they could potentially become infected. It is very low risk, but that is something that we've just got to be a little bit wary of if we were suspicious that we might have the disease, or certainly living with someone that might have symptoms.
Matt: Well, that's really good advice. And the next question was actually any sort of answers in that what you've just said there, but can kind of the pet’s food carry as well? Are there any issues around that that we need to be concerned about?
Andy: Yes, there's no sort of issue with food other than, again, that food and food bowls could potentially act as fomites. And this is the main reason why we're making sure that people that have pets are sticking to really strict hygiene measures. So, we do recommend that you wash your hands before and after touching your pets, as well as they’re bedding and food bowls, water bowls and things like that. And we do ask that people certainly either self-isolating because either themselves or their family members are showing symptoms, we do ask them not to share their food with pets, and you know, stop any sort of licking of the face and what have you, and try and restrict the interactions with their pets as best as possible.
Matt: That's really good. And those are actually the key questions. I think you've done a really good job of kind of answering them, and it's really useful information to know so thanks for that. And I guess some of the other things that we wanted to touch on was kind of, you know, if you either are affected or you yourself isolated and you have a dog or you have a pet, what sort of things can you actually then do with them? And what precautions do you have to take? So, I guess that the first one is can you, for example, take them out for a walk?
Andy: Yeah. So, the code guidelines at the moment is that the people around the country avoid non-essential socializing with others. So, we're all sort of trying to do our social distancing and trying to prevent and slow down the spread of the disease. And as long as we're, if we're social distancing, we can take our dogs for a walk, as long as we choose a quiet route where we’re unlikely to meet lots of other people. And if we do come across any of the dog walkers, we stay over at 2 meters away, and so that we're reducing the risk of spread. And then I think, by the current guidelines, we're okay to do that. It's different if we're self-isolating or we have tested positive for coronavirus and we can't obviously leave the house or the garden at that point. And so, we do want to be trying to ask other people, whether it be friends or neighbours, or dog walkers to take our pets for a walk in that situation. And obviously, it’s, again, we've got to make sure that we're doing our strict hygiene precautions. And I guess it's something that if you were concerned about if you were self-isolating, it'd be one of the things that you could ring the vet about and just ask about your specific scenario.
Matt: Yeah. Well, that's really good advice. And if we are self-isolating, we're struggling to get out and walk, what kind of things can we do to keep our pets kind of stimulated and exercised?
Andy: Yeah, sure. So, we're going to be stuck within the house for a period of time and our pets need to maintain their exercise. And also, we need to make sure we encourage mental stimulation as well. So, I guess it's trying to make sure that they're well looked after in terms of their well-being. And there are a few things that we can do around the house to try to encourage that. So, for instance, when it comes to feeding time, we can try and play some games with them. We can hide that food within toys around the house and you can get certain food bowls that make it more difficult for them to access their food. And, again, it just stimulates them to go sniffing and searching for the food, and so it lengthens the feeding time. And I guess as well, in terms of exercise, you want to be playing with them on a regular basis and, you know, playing toke with our toys and playing fetch. Again, it's good stimulation, a little bit of exercise for them and just keeps them occupied through the day. And you know, take the opportunity to build that bond, that relationship with your pets. I hear a lot of people themselves trying to improve their well-being and stimulate their own minds by learning different languages and things like that. Well, it's a perfect opportunity to build that bond, maybe refresh some of the training techniques you learned during your puppy classes and try and teach them new tricks and things like that. It’s a good opportunity to build that relationship.
Matt: And is there anything else that you'd recommend that you could do around that side of things as well?
Andy: Yeah. So, I mean, each household is going to have to find their own routine. I think sticking to a good routine, making sure that we aren't leaving the pets out there of that routine that we're giving them the attention they need. And as long as we're being careful with that hygiene, we can pretty much go about our normal life with them. And it's just we've got to, obviously, make sure we keep up to date with all the guidelines as things change.
Matt: Yeah, because I guess one of the things that I was thinking from kind of a human perspective, you got to almost look at the positives in this and see if there's any kind of things you can do with yourself while you've got extra time, whether it be learn a new skill. And you could maybe sort of do some of those things for your pet as well.
Andy: Yeah, exactly, yeah. So, like you said that, you know, that new tricks and, you know, refreshing those learnings that we did with them during the puppy schools. You know, it's great just to refresh and build that bond, and make sure that they're getting that stimulation that they need. Because it could be quite some time that we're isolating for, and we want to make sure that we keep on top of their well-being and we don't cause them any sort of depression, which can lead to behavioural problems.
Matt: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And well, I think we've probably touched on all the kind of things that we can do, and that's been really good information. I guess the final thing I wanted to touch on and just to get the key information down, but if, for example, our pets or dogs come into any kind of issues where they have to go and see the vet, what kind of precautions should people be taking and what should they do?
Andy: Yeah. So, I think first things first is that vets will offer 24/7 service, you know, we do want to keep trying for as long as we can, keep trying to provide that service. But obviously, with the current climate with the coronavirus, that service is going to change somewhat. So, I think the best thing to do is make sure you keep up to date with vet practices, social media, and they'll have all the protocols on that. But as well as, before going down to your vets, I think it's worthwhile giving them a call and asking for advice. And a lot of the protocols that veterinary practices are doing now are trying to prevent, you know, or trying to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, both to the clients, but also the team that are working there. So, it might be that the vet could give you some advice and do a consultation over the phone and then ask you to come and collect the medications for your pets or even post it out to you, which would avoid you bringing the pet down. And if you are self-isolating, if you are tested positive for the coronavirus, then we do advise not to come down to the vet.
Andy: We do recommend ringing your veterinary practice. They do have protocols for these scenarios whereby we try and arrange someone else to bring the pet down to us so that that pet can get the necessary treatment. But we do recommend certainly ringing before you do anything else.
Matt: That's really good, really good information to know. And I think we've covered quite a few of the different things. Obviously, there's a lot of uncertainty at the moment and people are a little bit unsure on what to do. And so, I think if anyone's got any further questions, they can comment on this video below and one of the members of our team will be more than happy to answer them. But, is there anything else from you, Andy?
Andy: Yeah, I think it's just to say that, you know, as long as we're keeping up to date with the current guidelines, we make sure we're washing our hands before and after touching our pets, we're trying to just be very aware as a household around our pets, you know, there's no need to act differently. The only situation which you’d act differently is if you were tested positive.
Andy: But just making sure that everyone keeps on top of all the hygiene measures as we are all learning and doing at the moment. And then hopefully, we can get through it and our pets can get through it together.
Matt: Yeah, perfect. thank you very much for your time, Andy. I think we've covered a lot there. And I really appreciate you taking the time to jump on this call.
Andy: Thanks very much. Cheers.
Matt: Yeah. Thanks, Andy.