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Pandemic and Pets

brownpau [Flickr]

One way to keep your pet entertained in confinement is to play with it.   Most cats are easily entertained with a peacock feather.  It is lightweight, and usually easily replaced if needed.  For some reason, a cat finds it almost irresistable.  And playing with your best friend is a good way to strengthen the bond between you.


Ordinarily, I would be talking to you today about celebrating Christmas with your pet. However, I think it’s important to talk about the ongoing pandemic and its effect on our relationship with our four-footed friends.

As reported cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, and it could be a while before a vaccine is widely available, there are still questions about pets in this pandemic. Last Spring, there were a handful of cases reported in which pets were infected with COVID-19; but all evidence pointed to the pets catching it from people, not the other way around. Animals can be susceptible to coronaviruses, but not the one that is causing worldwide illness and death in humans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.” That said, it is always possible that a human handling a pet could deposit a virus on its fur that could be picked up by the next person who touches that animal. So if you have someone in your household who becomes ill, isolate them from everyone else, including pets.

The CDC also recommends limiting your pet’s interaction with people outside your household. Either keep your dog in a fenced yard or walk it on a leash, always staying six feet away from others. Avoid dog parks or any public places where people tend to gather. If possible, keep your cat indoors, and don’t let it roam freely outside.

Do not try to clean or bath your furry friend with any kind of disinfectant or cleaner not specifically intended for use on animals. Don’t use hand sanitizer on your pet, or sanitary wipes, and don’t try to put a mask on your pet.

Keeping your furry friend safe is a top priority for any pet owner. And if a new dog or cat is at the top of your Christmas list, call your local shelter or rescue group. A new companion might be just the thing to make the holiday warm and fuzzy, for both of you, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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