Q: I always take precautions when I leave my home for grocery shopping by wearing a mask and keeping distance between myself and other people. In spite of all my efforts, if I get sick I worry what will happen to my pets. I live alone and have no family in the area so my two cats are very dear to me. My neighbor has the same concern since she is in a similar situation. What plans should we be making?
A: For many of us pets are part of our family. Your concerns are justified, there are steps you should take as soon as possible to guarantee they will be provided for in the event you become ill. Your neighbor may be a back-up as well as you could be hers if the need arises.
Think about other neighbors or friends living close by who would be willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your pets whether it be in your home or taking them into their own home. Have a conversation with each individual about your pet’s schedule, such as when they are fed, how much food to give them at each feeding and any other relevant information.
Make sure you give a written authorization for treatment which will allow the temporary caregiver to take your pet to the veterinarian in case they medical care.
If for one reason or another you can’t depend on someone else to care for your pet, you should isolate yourself as much as possible from them while you are ill. Wear a mask, wash your hands before and after feeding them. Resist picking them up, petting them or allowing them to sleep on your bed. There have only been a few instances worldwide of human to pet contamination of COVID-19 but don’t take any unnecessary chances.
As you have probably experienced while shopping for groceries, there also has been a delay in the delivery of pet supplies in some areas of the country. Try to have on hand a 2 week supply of food, treats, cat litter and a 30 day supply of the pet’s medications.
Veterinary clinics for the most part are still operating, although they may be only offering essential services. Some clinics are limiting the number of clients allowed in the clinic at one time while others are operating with curbside service.
A staff member comes out to the car and takes the pet inside for the care required, the veterinarian will then call with an update. Vaccinations for rabies or leptospirosis should not be postponed, but if the visit is not an emergency it would be best to wait. Veterinarians are making every effort to protect their employees while at the same time treating their pet clients who may require immediate care.
For additional information go online at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html and animalsheltering.org/COVID-19/communications.
Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call our Lawrence Office at 800-892-0890 or Danvers Office at 978-750-4540.
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Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.