2020 has been an eventful year, to say the least. What with the murder hornets, fires, crashes, and, most memorable of all, the coronavirus pandemic that has forced the entire population into self-isolation. These crises have had disastrous events that have affected people in different ways forcing them to find means to cope.
Mental health is as important as physical health and, now more than ever; people have realized the importance of emotional support. But with the current state of events disrupting the social norm, finding this kind of support is not as easy as it was a while back.
People with disabilities may be finding it harder to adjust to these changes. Although social contact restrictions are meant to help curb the virus’s spread, many people remain affected. However, to ease these effects, people seeking emotional therapy often get support animals for their therapeutic benefits, such as emotional support from emotional support animals.
Emotional support animals have been known to help their owners relieve stress, depression, and other medical conditions caused by stress.
However, although they have been known to help, taking care of these animals is challenging, and with the pandemic, things can get a little bit tougher.
What you need to know
- A small number of pets have been reported to have been infected with the covid-19 virus after coming into close contact with infected people.
- Based on limited information, the risk of animals spreading the covid-19 virus to sick people is low.
- Treat your pets in the same way you would treat other family members and not let them get into close contact with people outside your family circle.
- If a person or pet becomes sick, you should isolate them to prevent the virus from spreading to other pets or family members.
- Watch out for new information about the virus since it’s a rapidly evolving situation.
So, how do you go about caring for your emotional support animal during the covid-19 pandemic?
Caring for your support animal during Covid-19 shouldn’t be hard as long as you follow these set guidelines recommended by the CDC.
What to do if you have an emotional support animal
#1. Protect your support animal
If you want to keep your support animal-safe, you should keep it from getting into contact with other animals and people apart from your family members who you stay with. Doing this will help protect you, your family, and your emotional support animal from contracting the coronavirus.
Doctors and researchers are still learning about the coronavirus. However, the CDC is aware of reports of a small number of emotional support animals that have tested positive for the virus that causes covid-19. These cases happened mostly after the animals came in close contact with people infected with the virus.
#2. What if you are in the outdoors with your emotional support animal
If you need to go somewhere and you have to go with your emotional support animal, you should keep it leashed when possible. You should also try and stay at least six feet away from others.
If you have a cat, you should keep them inside the house at all times, if possible, and do not let them roam outside freely. Doing this will help you protect your emotional support animal and yourself from contracting the covid-19 virus.
#3. Do not put a facemask on your emotional support animal
It would be best not to put any face mask on your support animal to protect them from the virus. Dogs and other animals rely heavily on their senses for sight, hearing, and smell.
Putting a mask on your support animal can cause more harm than good. Doing this could impair their breathing, and they may even hurt themselves. Forcing your support animal to wear a face mask could also upset them, make them agitated and even aggressive.
#4. Do not bathe or wipe your support animal with chemical disinfectants
Using non-recommended chemical products for bathing your support animal, a dog, for instance, can be toxic and may cause many adverse effects. These products could cause your dog to have inflamed skin and even lead to infections.
It would be best if you avoid products with alcohol as ingredients, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, and any other chemical compounds ending in with the suffix ‘phenol.’ You could instead use gentle baby shampoo with some water and wash their paws for about 20 minutes before rinsing them off.
If you notice any dryness, you should apply some coconut oil on their paws, and you’re good to go.
Caring for your emotional support animal if you have Covid-19
- If you’re diagnosed with covid-19 and are too ill to care for your support animal, then you should arrange for the animal to be cared for by a friend or family member.
- You should write down your support animal’s information such as their feeding schedule, behavior, name, and veterinarian’s just if you have to leave the animal in foster care.
- Provide the animals with their favorite toy and blanket for comfort and warmth.
- You should also ensure that that all their medications, if any, are documented, their vaccines are up to date and that you have copies for their medical records. It would also be great if you included the veterinarian’s dosage in case you have to take your support animal into boarding.
How to know if your pet needs to get tested for covid-19
According to the CDC, the risk that your support animal will have a severe covid-19 case is very low. However, several symptoms could be mistaken for covid-19, such as coughing, shortness of breath, lethargy, nasal discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Scientists are still learning about the virus and how it affects animals. According to Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, who works with the CDC, there is no reason for the general population to panic or even test animals.
The CDC advices that the animal should be tested if it shows these signs after coming into contact with someone who has or is suspected of having covid-19. Otherwise, you need to keep the animal in isolation and avoid taking it outside.
Conclusion: sanitize and observe proper hygiene
To help reduce the chances of contracting the virus through your support animal, you should practice good pet hygiene. You should ensure that you wash your hands after handling the animal’s food, waste, or supplies and cleaning after the pets thoroughly with the right shampoos.
It would be helpful if you talked with your veterinarian in case you feel like you have any questions regarding your pet’s health. You must also be aware that children under five years of age, people with a weak immune system, and the elderly are more likely to get sick from germs that the animals carry.
Following these recommendations will reduce your chances of contracting the covid-19 virus from your support animal and vice versa. Taking all measures to care for your emotional support dog will help ensure its health and wellbeing. Doing this will also ensure that your family, any other pets, and yourself remain healthy and safe from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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