Veterinarians weigh in: How to protect your pet from COVID-19 & what to do if you get sick

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) is encouraging pet owners to make an emergency plan for their animals in case they become too sick to care for them.

“Make sure you have supplies on hand,” IACS Deputy Director Katie Trennepohl said. “Make sure you have someone that can care for your pet in your home, that you have medications, vet information, anything they might need to take care of your pet while you’re gone.”

Trennepohl said usually, the shelter is able to take cats and dogs whose owners have been hospitalized. That may not be the case as coronavirus cases surge.

“What the other cities are seeing is that these pet owners are hospitalized for weeks at a time and if we see an influx, we will not be able to do that,” she told CBS4. “What we want the public to know is that while we want to do that, it’s not something we may be able to do.”

  • IACS recommends pet owners gather the following:
  • Name and contact information for the person who can care for your pets
  • Name and contact information for your back-up, in case your go-to is no longer able to help
  • Food, treats, a leash, toys, and any other supplies necessary to care for your pet for at least two weeks
  • A crate or carrier to transport your pet
  • Vaccination records
  • Collar with ID tags (if your pet has a microchip, don’t forget to make sure the information is up to date)
  • Medications and prescriptions, along with instructions
  • Daily care instructions, including a feeding schedule
  • Your veterinarian’s contact information

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, there is currently no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from their pets. It is possible, though, that animals can be carriers.

“In other words, if you have viral particles on your pet, you don’t want to spread it to someone else,” Dr. Erik Tysklind, D.V.M. said.

Dr. Tysklind said it’s possible those viral particles cling to the pet’s hair or fur. He suggests bathing animals regularly to prevent them from infecting you, your family or neighbors.

“Soap and water,” he explained. “The same rules for us! Soap and water are the best disinfectants. And if you do play with your pet, don’t touch you face right afterwards.”

Concern about COVID-19 and people’s pets increased after a tiger tested positive for coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Six other big cats have been showing symptoms. Officials believe the tiger was exposed to an infected zookeeper.

“But we don’t know what that association is at this point in time,” Dr. Tysklind clarified.

Several Indianapolis veterinarians, including Dr. Tysklind and his practice, The Paw Patch, have changed their operations drastically. Many are now offering a concierge service. The pet owner parks, a technician takes the animal into the building for its exam, and billing is done over the phone. The person never gets out of the vehicle.

“It’s to minimize the amount of contact with staff and the public,” Dr. Tysklind said.

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