As the coronavirus outbreak continues to escalate across all parts of the globe, pet owners are worried about what will happen to their pets if they get sick or require hospitalization, said Hilary Hanson of Huffpost, an American news and opinion website. Planning ahead is helpful to ensure the “best possible outcome” for your loyal companions.
You may already have general contingency measures in place, but the pandemic may introduce unique circumstances that you need to factor in when planning. Anne Levin, director of Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition, told HuffPost, “What we’re trying to do is raise awareness that your normal plans may not be feasible right now.”
The Products and the Amount Panicked People Spend During the Outbreak
In a survey by Ipsos Mori, a market research company, 61% of 18-75-year-old Britons believed it is unacceptable to buy a range of products in bulk, including personal hygiene products. Britons aged 18-34 years (37%) felt that buying these products would be unacceptable as opposed to 74% of Britons aged 55 to 75 years.
21% said it is acceptable to purchase personal hygiene products, followed by cold and pain relief medicine (19%) and non-perishable foodstuffs (19%). 17% of respondents found it acceptable to buy frozen food including vegetables, along with long-life milk (16%), toilet roll (14%), and vitamins (11%). Those without kids (64%) found it more unacceptable to buy in bulk than those with children (53%).
Regarding the respondents’ supermarket shopping habits, 57% said their household’s approach to grocery shopping remained unchanged. 34% said they are purchasing one or two additional items compared with their usual shopping, 7% said they buy in bulk, and 2% said they don’t know.
Nielsen, an American information, data, and measurement firm, aimed to find out what panicked consumers are purchasing in grocery stores, cited Flora Southey of Food Navigator, a daily news website on food ingredients and more. The findings revealed that household and pet care items had the biggest increase (65%) in the week ending March 14, followed by ambient groceries (62%). Health, beauty, toiletries, and babycare items also saw a 46% increase, along with frozen food (33%), beer, wine and spirits (11%), and impulse snacking items (185).
Other products that saw the biggest increase were children’s medicine (228%), UHT milk (181%), Adult analgesics (170%), pasta (168%), canned pasta (148%), canned meat (147%), and canned or packet soup (118%). According to Blacktower Financial Management Group, a financial planning and wealth management, UK households spent an extra £13 a week in supermarkets during the outbreak, mentioned Southey.
It also found that with 27.9 million households in the UK, a total of £351.5 million is spent each week at an average of £13 extra a week. Rationing should improve product availability and encourage buyers to purchase items at the rate that they consume, emphasized Jan Godsell of the University of Warwich, a Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy. This way, everyone has access to all the products they need.
How To Take Care of Your Pets During the Pandemic
1. Purchase Pet Food and Other Essential Pet Supplies
Owners are panic buying for the long haul at Walmart and Costco, as well as other pet stores that remain open like Petco, reported Nathaniel Meyersohn of business news CNN Business. A spokesperson for Petco argued that the store’s decision to stay open during the outbreak is because mass retailers and grocery stores cannot feed all pets.
Speaking of which, it is recommended to stockpile at least two weeks’ worth of food for your pet and 30 days’ worth of any medications they take, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a non-profit organization. Be sure to purchase other items you might need such as cat litter or bedding for small pets. You can also benefit from purchasing pet supplies online.
2. Choose An Emergency Caregiver (Preferably Someone Local)
You should have someone you can ask to take care of your pets in case of an emergency even in normal times. Travelling can be dangerous or logistically tricky during the pandemic if you choose a caregiver who lives far away, Levin stated. Hence, your best bet is to get someone local.
Levin suggested keeping pet supplies close to the door or in an easily accessible area. You might want to create a “pet dossier” ahead of time, including medical conditions and the like, to help prepare your caregiver. You can also create another copy of the dossier near the door or your pet’s supplies.
3. Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands before and after handling or interacting with your pets. If possible, wear a face mask and regularly wash your pet’s food/water bowls, bedding materials, and toys. It is also advisable not to share food with your pets even if you are not sick, Dr. Derrick Landini, owner of Heal Veterinary Clinic, as quoted by Dina Bair and Katharin Czink of WGN9, a radio and news network.
This is because a person with COVID-19 could show no clinical signs of the virus. Dr. Landini added, “So, stop kissing on them, you can hug them and pet them, but [stop] kissing on them like all of us do and [sharing] food."
4. Communicate With Your Local Shelter
Many people are fostering pets from local shelters and rescue groups to keep them company. Fostering means you are giving an animal a temporary home while it is still up for adoption. In case you are sheltering a pet, the shelter or group is still responsible for the animals. At this time, keeping in touch with your local shelter or group is key, Hanson stressed.
What if you are sick or not feeling well? Levin recommends contacting your local rescue group so they plan things out. That way, the rescue group can work with you as soon as possible to determine the best course of action for your foster pets.
Tina Reddington, director of the ASPCA’s Los Angeles volunteer and foster programs, said in an email that it is useful to take regular notes on your foster pet’s status in case something arises. While your foster program may be busy, it is still recommended to reach out, whether you need more supplies “or if you foresee the last date you can keep your foster pets in your home,” Reddington emphasized.
People are hoarding not just food and hygiene products, but also pet supplies for their beloved companions. It is best to stock on two week’s worth of food and 30 days’ worth of medications to limit your exposure to the virus. For foster pets, it is recommended to regularly communicate your local shelter or rescue group about its status or any concerns you may have.