Pet owners now have to learn to obey the “stay” command, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most Daniel Island residents to remain home. While the stay at home ordinance may be “ruff” on owners, island animals are enjoying the extra attention.
Many pet parents are concerned about how COVID-19 will affect their animals. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there isn’t any evidence pets can spread the virus at the present time.
Daniel Island Animal Hospital Practice Manager Abby Suiter says although there have been some reports of animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, multiple experts and health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19. But she cautions, “Those ill with COVID-19 should limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a face mask. Don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.”
The animal hospital remains open for business, but because of the stay at home ordinance, they’re encouraging clients to postpone pet care that isn’t time sensitive.
“To further encourage pet owners to stay home, we have begun offering free porch delivery of pet medications, prevention, and food. We feel a civic responsibility to do what we can to flatten the curve. Limiting the quantity of clients visiting our practice each day, while still remaining available to help those who need it, is how we are currently operating to meet those goals,” Suiter explained.
However, Suiter says it’s important to come in for required vaccinations, spaying procedures, medically necessary dental procedures, and rechecks for existing medical conditions to make sure pets remain healthy.
During the COVID-19 outbreak when many residents are working from home, it’s important to keep pets busy during business hours.
“Providing chews and enriching puzzles will help them stay happily occupied, leaving you free to work uninterrupted while working from home,” said Karen Patrohay of Michael's Barkery.
Blackbaud employee Lisa Brogden and her husband, Gabe, are both working from home, much to the delight of their fur baby, Bella.
“She is such a good girl and spends most of the day napping in her bed or on the loveseat. Occasionally, she will alert us of other dogs walking down the street. Fortunately that only occurred during one of my conference calls. Nothing the mute button won’t fix,” said Brogden.
Stephanie Alexander said her two dogs will be sad once things return to normal.
“As far as Trinket and Tipsy are concerned, this quarantine is the best thing that’s ever happened! My husband Jeff and I have five kids. So between me working from home and the kids being home, they are in heaven,” she said. “For me, I would say the challenge is that they want to go in and out all day while I’m working.”
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Clements Ferry Veterinary is taking precautionary measures to protect pets, owners, and staff. The clinic now offers “low contact visits” to perform all necessary treatments and vaccines. The staff transports all pets to and from the parking lot and can discuss any concerns with owners over the phone.
The vet’s office is also providing curbside pickup of products or prescriptions to clients who call ahead.
Besides increasing sanitation efforts in high touch areas, Clements Ferry Veterinary says it is practicing social distancing in accordance with the recommendations by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The adjustment in Daniel Island residents’ routines is a big treat for their pets. Natalie Perry noted that her rescue pup, Manny, is getting a lot more exercise and attention from his whole family.
“Manny loves having everyone home. He wakes up excited every day knowing that his whole family will be with him all day. We walk the entire Island Park Drive, which tires him out. He loves to see the other dogs out walking too,” said Perry.
The Morgan family is enjoying their “new norm” spending extra time with their felines, 17-year-old Hector and his 3-year-old “brother” Finlay. During the quarantine, the two cats have been staying especially close to their pet parents, Wayne and Lindy, who admitted the extra cuddling and play time keeps the two Maine Coon cats happy all day.
Katherine Russell’s 12-week-old cockapoo, Nile, was only home for three weeks before the quarantine started. The young pup is exploring his new surroundings, while practicing social distancing skills, of course.
“He is enjoying learning new tricks, soaking in all the cuddles, and playing with his new toys,” said Russell.
With two cats and two dogs, the Bridges family of Daniel Island always has a full house. With the stay at home order, the family pets are excited to have their pet parents home full time. Teddy, the family’s mini Bernese, loves having his busy daddy home and follows him around all day. By the end of the day, the constantly playful pup is exhausted.
People benefit from interacting more with pets, and it can be one of the best therapies for owners during the crisis. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, pets can help their owners cope better in stressful situations. Pets can help with the loneliness of a lockdown and provide emotional support.
But these changes can also cause some reactions that pet owners need to be keep in mind.
Dr. Bridget Luke of the Daniel Island Animal Hospital said some pets can suffer stress from disruption of daily routines or in response to their owner’s anxiety.
“Cats are particularly prone to this and may express their anxiety with inappropriate elimination (urinating and defecating outside the litter box) and hiding. Owners can help ease this stress by allowing pets a space to be alone whenever they desire,” said Luke.
For pets suffering with anxiety, over the counter remedies such as calming pheromones and music are good options to try. CBD treats also may help to calm pets. If these methods don’t work, prescription medications are available to help alleviate symptoms.
Once things get back to normal, most pets will transition back to their old routines without too much trouble.
“We do not anticipate pets to develop separation anxiety during this time if they did not have this behavioral condition previously. Those who do have a history of separation anxiety that is not controlled, could experience a flare up when families return to their work and school routines,” explained Luke.
For pets that have trouble adjusting to separation, Patrohay of Michael's Barkery suggests providing a special place just for them that has their toys, games, and maybe even an old T-shirt or blanket with your scent on it.
“Train them to go to that space while you are still home and then start to take short trips to help them ease away from always being with you. If you usually leave a radio or TV on when you are home, leaving it on while you are away may also help,” she said.