Ever since COVID-19 got a foothold over our lives, the world is brimming with questions. Questions that mostly circle around the topic of safety of not just humans but also pets and ESAs. If you own an Emotional Support Animal, it must be impossible to ignore doubts that keep lingering the thoughts throughout the day. You need them closer to you but are not sure if it is safe for you or them.
In addition to the existing uncertainty, all the misinformation on social media is only worsening the situation. It has become difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. While some claim animals are no threat, others are doubtful. What to believe?
This blog is meant to clear the air for good. I have made a list of the most common questions related to ESAs and COVID-19. It is meant to keep you updated and make sure that you and your ESA stay safe amidst the health crisis.
#1 Can my ESA transmit or get sick of COVID-19?
The answer to this question is not concrete.
The novelty of the virus has created a series of doubts not just among civilians but also the scientists and doctors. It has been difficult for health organizations to give a concrete affirmation or rejection of the claims regarding COVID-19 and domesticated animals. However, based on the present data from the CDC, the WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health, the following information can be verified as facts.
There has been no evidence of the transmission of COVID-19 from pets to humans. Although pets and ESA can act as carriers for other forms of coronaviruses, based on the current data, COVID-19 is not one of them. However, this information is not a total denial of the fact that your animal can be a carrier of the virus. So it is important to adhere to all sorts of precautions while dealing with your ESA.
As the pandemic is progressing there have been positive COVID-19 cases of animals. The first case was reported in Hong Kong where a pomeranian had a weak infection without any clinical symptoms. However, the US has recently reported cases of animals with clinical symptoms. A couple of tigers in a zoo, two domesticated cats and a dog are known to have contracted COVID-19 from infected humans. However, the percentage is still very low to conclude anything but the possibility of animals getting sick exists.
#2 Does my ESA need to practice social distancing too?
With the recent development in COVID-19 infections in animals, it has become more important to keep your ESA and pets safe too. The CDC has laid out new guidelines that extend all the social distancing measures practiced by humans for animals as well. It is advised to treat your pets and ESAs as humans and follow every precautionary measure with them too.
Keep them out of contact with other pets and people. If in case you need to socialize, make sure to maintain a distance of at least six feet between other animals and your ESA. If you own a cat, make sure that they stay indoors. And avoid going out to crowded places with your ESA.
#3 Is it safe to take my ESA on a walk?
If your government has not put any restrictions on dog walking then there is no issue in taking your ESA for a walk. However, in addition to consulting the authorities, it is also important that you check your health before heading out.
If you are infected, there is no reason for you to take your ESA on a walk even with a mask on. Likewise, if you have been instructed to complete your home quarantine period, stay at home. In case you or any of your family members show any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, avoid taking your ESA out. And lastly, if you are suffering from any underlying medical condition that puts you at a higher risk of developing complications from the coronavirus, your ESA can do without a walk for some time.
Even when you do take your ESA out, make sure to practice social distancing. Stay close to your home and avoid all public places including dog parks.
#4 What precautions should I take while in quarantine with my ESA?
While in quarantine with your Emotional Support Animal it is crucial to stay cautious around them as much as possible. Begin by maintaining proper hygiene of your animals. Give them a nice bath to clean their body from any contaminant. Make sure that your pets are not running around the streets and are indoors especially cats. And as mentioned already, make them practice social distancing as well. You don’t need to put a mask on them as it won’t do much for their protection.
Remember to wash your hands after touching your pets especially after they have interacted with other people. Also, keep your pets away from infected people. Felines are known to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 than other animals. So if you own cats, be even more cautious about their safety.
#5 How to care for my ESA if I catch COVID-19?
If you end up getting sick with COVID-19, keep your ESA away from you. It is best to keep them under the care of someone trustworthy. So you don’t have to worry about feeding them or keeping them company. For people who are caring for the pets of infected patients, remember to be very cautious about touching anything. SARS-CoV-2 is known to stay on surfaces for quite a long time so wear protective gear properly.
However, if this is not possible for you, get in touch with your nearest shelter or animal services to let them know of your situation. They can guide you with the best ways to care for your ESA.
#6 What to do if I think my ESA is infected?
Though very low, there are chances of animals getting sick with COVID-19. To ensure the well being of your ESA, keep a regular tab on their health. See if they are exhibiting any peculiar symptoms or behaviors. In case you notice something unusual, whether associated with COVID-19 or not, contact a veterinarian immediately. Do not rush to a hospital instead contact them first. They may ask you to reach the hospital or give consultation online through telemedicine. Whatever be the case, don’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian when you feel something’s wrong with your ESA.
Covid-19 is still progressing and more new information is emerging with passing time. This information may be valid until new data is collected and different conclusions are made. So keep in touch with trustworthy sources and health departments to ensure proper safety of ESA.