Covid-19: Experts share insights on how to care for pets when a pet parent tests positive

Pet boarding facilities have proved to be reasonable and dependable when pet parents have been tested COVID positive and need to isolated. The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed a few dos and don’ts on its website to protect pets during the pandemic. It has stated that a few pets have got infected after close contact with humans, and adds that in most cases the infection is mild and that they often recover fully. A serious COVID-19 infection in a pet is extremely rare, says the CDC. It adds “the risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low”.

Keep your pet from the virus

Hygiene is of utmost importance during the pandemic. Even for your pets. Keeping them clean and away from an infected person is necessary, say vets. Ahmedabad-based vet Dr Ritesh Patel says, “Pets tend to be asymptomatic. But we still don’t have enough data. However, if one wants to test a pet for COVID, one can get it done through the same RT-PCR kit.”

Covid-19: Experts share insights on how to care for pets when a pet parent tests positive

The CDC on its website shares a similar opinion. “Infected pets might get sick or they might not have any symptoms. Pets that do have symptoms usually have mild illness that can be taken care of at home. If you think your pet is sick with the virus or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, talk to your veterinarian,” it says.

The data on COVID-19 and pets is still elementary and there are vaccines to prevent some viruses among pets. However, allow your vet to recommend it.

Personalised care

How do you look after your cat, pupper or hamster, etc if you have tested Covid positive? Pet parent Sheena Sahni Vora chose to send her pug Romeo to a pet boarding since her entire family tested positive mid-April. She says, “My first concern was how to look after Romeo’s food and his walks since we all had to be quarantined.” She put her pug at Bark-Inn, a pet boarding, where he had stayed earlier and had adjusted well. Vora says, “Shwetali Mulik, the owner, is one of the few boarding owners who stays with the dogs all day. She doesn’t assign caretakers.”

Vora is highly appreciative of the personal attention her pet receives when he stays with them. “Shwetali is very thorough about pet parents listing out the pets’ food habits, medication timings and any health issues they might have. She also plays with the pets and celebrates their birthdays with carrot cake.”

The Mumbai-based Bark-Inn provides overnight stays, day care, food and security to pets. The rate per day/ night is Rs 1,000 for a pet and the care is “customised and never compromised on”, says Mulik.

Mulik speaks about strict lockdowns where societies have also been inconsiderate — not allowing residents to take dogs for walks or situations where a house has one patient and the whole family is not allowed to step to take the dog out for on a walk.

She says these are the dire situations where her boarding makes a difference. “The dogs are taken from below the apartment building where our boarding is (the owner is not allowed up). The dog’s leash is taken back by the pet parent. We use our own leashes while the pet stays with us. On entry, the dog is sponged with warm betadine-laced water,” said Mulik.

Arunodaya Reddy, founder of Chennai-based “Hotel for Dogs” Harley & Me, tells us about how the boarding had been catering to pet parents who want to go on a vacation. Today, it is being used by Covid patients who are unable to care of their dogs.

In 2015 floods, the boarding took in almost 70 dogs. The day rate for a pet at Harley & Me is Rs 1,000. Reddy says that when pet parents can’t afford it, he asks them to pay what they can. “However, people should not take advantage of that. During the floods, I kept many dogs for free. Out of 70, only 10 or 15 paid the full-day rate.”

Fun birthday parties and cool pool sessions

Shyamax Presswalla’s The Bark Club in Mumbai is known to help people with pet care during tough times. The rate for Bark Club is also Rs 1,000 a day and Presswalla is also lenient to pet parents who can’t afford it. Pet boardings like Bark Club are known to host fun sessions for the doggos — celebrating birthdays of pets and conducting hydrotherapy pool sessions for dogs.

The Bark Club has 24-hour on-call vets. “We even took in the companion animals / dogs of infected people living in the slums and their employers paid for their dogs’ stay at Bark Club. Ours is a passion-driven company.” Bark Club also lodges cats, fish and guinea pigs.

There is always help available. Pet boardings and professional dog walkers who are willing to offer their service during the pandemic. Dial in and lay your pooch-related worries to rest.

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