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Emergency Plan for Pet Owners during COVID-19 

What happens to my pet if I am ill or hospitalized?

11/24/2020

With the coronavirus rapidly spreading around the world, many pet owners are getting increasingly worried about what they should do with their pets if they fall ill, are hospitalized, or have to go into self-isolation. Putting a good emergency plan in place for these eventualities can alleviate the stress should a pet owner be faced with this situation.  

Here are FOUR PAWS’ tips on how to prepare, so that your pets are well taken care of, whatever happens. 

Tips for dog owners 

  • For dogs it is important that they can still go for their daily walks if you are ill, as well as having regular access to the outdoors to go to the bathroom. If you cannot exercise your dog because you are in self-isolation due to showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should ask someone to walk your dog for you. However, all health and safety measures must be followed along with social distancing. If you do not have symptoms but are in a lockdown period then you need to check the lockdown procedures with regard to walking your dog, ensuring that if you do walk your dog that you remain 6 ft away from anyone you meet while out on the walk.
  • If you are seriously ill and have to be hospitalized, you will need a designated person who can care for your pet during this time, and this should be arranged in advance so that there is always someone on hand to help take care of your pet. If you have enough time, it is also advisable to introduce your pet to the person who may have to take care of them in an emergency so that they are familiar with their caretaker. You should also leave clear instructions and enough provisions to ensure your pet is properly taken care of while you are away. 
  • If there is no one to take care of your pet, contact your veterinarian in case they offer home care pet services or if boarding your dog is an option; you can also contact a local animal shelter or animal welfare organization to see if they can help.

Tips for cat owners 

  • If you own a cat and have to go into the hospital for a period of time, see if family, friends or a neighbor could be asked to help. Anyone helping out at this time should follow all health and safety measures, washing their hands regularly after contact with your cat.
  • If you have enough time, it is also good to introduce your pet to the person who may have to take care of them in an emergency, so that they are familiar with their caretaker. You should also leave clear instructions and enough provisions to ensure your pet is properly taken care of while you are away. Cats are sensitive to changes in their surroundings, so finding someone who can care for them in your home is preferable if possible.
  • If there is no one who can take care of your cat, contact your veterinarian to see if they can provide any home care pet services or if boarding your cat is an option; you can also contact a local animal shelter or animal welfare organization to seek assistance.  
  • Care of your cat should include feeding twice a day, providing fresh water and cleaning the cat’s litter box morning and night. Of course, if your cat wants to and is not forced, petting and playing with them is also important.

Tips for small mammals 

  • If you have small mammals as pets and you have to be hospitalized, see if family, friends or a neighbor could be asked to help out by coming into your house to provide daily food, water, and to clean cages and enclosures, as necessary. Small mammals will also need adequate exercise especially if you are away for a period in hospital. 
  • It is always advisable to find someone in advance to take care of your pet and to provide clear instructions and enough provisions for their daily care.

It is our responsibility as pet owners to take care of our pets, even in emergencies, and to put in place plans to cover every situation

FOUR PAWS advises every pet owner to ensure that they have plans in place, so that if they have to go into the hospital someone can take care of their pets during this time. This makes sense not only in the current situation, but also in case of any illness or emergency in everyday life  

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