Veterinarian advises grooming dogs more frequently during pandemic
Wash your DOG weekly to avoid coronavirus: Experts warn that the disease could be transmitted ‘from animal fur to humans’ – and their nails should be clipped regularly too
- UK’s leading veterinarians advise on caring for pets during covid-19 pandemic
- Dr Jessica May of FirstVet, warns virus can spread for animal fur to humans
- Caroline Reay of BlueCross, says you may need to wash pets more frequently
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Most people have begun wearing gloves, masks and carrying hand sanitiser gels to avoid catching covid-19, however pet owners should be taking extra precautions, reveal two leading UK veterinarians.
Dr Jessica May of FirstVet and Caroline Reay of BlueCross shared their advice for caring for four-legged friends throughout the ongoing pandemic.
Speaking to FEMAIL, the animal experts revealed it’s possible for viruses to be transmitted from fur to humans, and warned owners to wash their cats and dogs ‘more frequently’ after taking them out, and clip their nails regularly.
They also advised to practice ‘social distancing’ with pets, discouraging people from touching them as their fur can transmit the virus, which survives on softer surfaces for short periods.
NHS GP Dr Dawn Harper added: ‘We are still learning about this virus but we think that it can survive outside the human body on hard surfaces, like metal, for up to three days and on soft surfaces such as clothing for shorter periods.
‘To that end, it is theoretically possible that if someone with the virus coughed over your pet, you then stroked it and then touched your mouth, nose or eyes, that you could contract the virus.’
Dr Jessica May of FirstVet and Caroline Reay of BlueCross, shared their advice for caring for pets throughout the coronavirus pandemic (file image)
PETS SHOULD BE WASHED FREQUENTLY
It’s generally advised that dogs should be washed every 12 weeks, but you can wash them as often as once a week as long as you use a mild shampoo – and more regular washing is encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Jessica said: ‘Although pets cannot be infected with the virus, it can be transmitted to another human on their fur.
‘If the pet is living in a household where a person is showing symptoms, then a neighbour, friend or family member from outside the household should be asked to take the pet to the clinic, rather than the pet owner or anyone in the household.
‘All vet clinics in the UK have now been advised by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) that they are not to offer or provide routine non-emergency appointments for pets until further notice.
‘So, if owners are unsure whether they need to go to a vet clinic, then they can call their clinic for advice or, otherwise, a vet at FirstVet can advise them via video consultation and either recommend a physical visit or offer advice remotely. If you do need to visit a clinic in person, make sure to call ahead to check whether your clinic is open.’
Caroline added: ‘If pets are coming into contact with the outside world you might want to consider bathing them more frequently and you should be sure to wash your hands well with soap after touching your pets or leads, harnesses and food bowls.
‘Practice social distancing with small pets and don’t allow others to touch them.’
Dr Jessica revealed the frequency pets should be washed varies depending on how much time they’re spending inside during quarantine (file image)
There is currently no evidence that dogs can get covid-19, says Dr Jessica who has been a qualified vet for the past eight years after studying at the Royal Veterinary College.
She continued: ‘There is currently no suspicion that dogs can be infected, or that they can spread Covid-19 to humans. Although a dog in Hong Kong tested mildly positive for the virus, after swabs were taken from its nose and mouth, it was not showing clinical signs. The test results did not show that the dog was infected with Covid-19.
‘That said, there are numerous strains of coronavirus that affect animals: canine coronavirus (CCV), which is highly contagious amongst dogs, and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is an illness that can manifest from coronavirus infection in cats. These strains of the virus spread from animal to animal, but cannot be transmitted to humans.
‘In usual circumstances pets should not be washed too often and, if they spend most of their time inside during quarantine, it is likely that this need will decrease further. Over-washing them can cause skin irritation, so try to wash your pet only when they need to be cleaned.
‘For example: a dog may need to be bathed one to two times per month. If a pet does need to be bathed, then it is important to use bathing products that are designed for animals. A pet-friendly shampoo should be used.
‘Oatmeal-based pet shampoo is beneficial for animals with sensitive skin. When bathing your pet you should also be wary of getting any products in their eyes, as this can also cause irritation, so try to avoid using shampoo around your pet’s head.’
She added: ‘Dogs’ nails may need to be clipped more frequently than usual if they are not wearing them down by walking on concrete surfaces. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re keeping your dog’s fur clean and are brushing its teeth two or three times a week.’
PRACTISE SOCIAL DISTANCING WITH PETS
Pet kisses should also be avoided says Caroline who is the Head of Veterinary Service at Blue Cross pet charity and has worked with animals since 1986.
Too much petting is a bad thing!
The veterinarians added that pets will have developed a daily routine while you are away normally, so they will be used to being by themselves through the day.
‘Try not to interrupt this cycle by constantly petting your animal throughout the day, as this can be distracting for owners and is likely to make the transition back to the old routine harder once you return to work,’ said Dr Jessica.
‘Overall, it is best to maintain a degree of distance from your pets while you’re working from home. This might mean staying in separate rooms for part of the day or letting your pet into the garden while you are busy working inside.
‘This approach allows both you and your pet to keep to your ordinary system of separation during working hours and avoid any unnecessary distractions.’
Caroline added: ‘If cats want to jump onto your working space and you don’t want them there quietly pick them up and put them somewhere else, give them a toy they can play with on their own – cat nip may be invaluable here – or pop them outside for a while or into another room if possible.
‘If pets come to you for a fuss or to play and you are busy just ignore them until you are ready to interact. But don’t forget that to occasionally stroke a pet can be very soothing if you’re handling a stressful work situation – remember to wash your hands afterwards.’
She said: ‘While walking dogs, owners must keep at least two metres away from other people, dog walkers and their dogs. As each household member is only allowed out once a day it is likely dogs will be walked less so owners need to make up for them having less exercise and mental stimulation within the home through play and training.
‘Don’t be tempted, while spending more time at home with your pet, to spoil them with extra treats or titbits from your own food. ‘
Dr Jessica added: ‘Additionally, with activity levels reducing, you may need to reduce the size of your pet’s food portions. Keep a close eye on their physique: In general, your dog’s chest should be wider than their abdomen and you should be able to feel their ribs easily with a light touch, and without a thick layer of fat. If your dog doesn’t meet these criteria, it may be time to cut down on their food.’
Dr Dawn Harper who is an NHS GP added that we’re in challenging times but no one expects a dog to hold its bladder.
She said: ‘As a doctor, I know just how important our pets are to us, especially at times like these. For many, a pet may be the only source of companionship for several weeks. Animals play a key role in promoting good mental and physical health.
‘Just stroking your dog, for example, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and if your pet happens to be a dog or a horse, they will also have a huge impact on physical health, through the exercise that is involved in looking after them day to day.
‘I have a reasonable sized garden, so I can take my dog, Fennel, for a decent walk each day and let her out to do her ablutions in my garden at other times of the day.
‘If you don’t have that facility, no-one is going to expect a dog to hold its bladder from one day to the next, so you will have to take him or her out at regular intervals during the day, but it is essential for your health, the health of those around you and the health of our NHS, that you practice social distancing at all times and keep those extra outings to the minimum necessary. ‘
For more pet advice during the Covid-19 pandemic and to sign up for free weekly advice and pet news visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/coronavirus
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