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With all the information available on human responses and precautions related to the ongoing coronavirus strain COVID-19, animal experts are urging pet and livestock owners to prepare for their pets and livestocks’ needs in the event they become ill, travel becomes limited or are they unexpectedly separated from animals for an extended period of time.
“This virus causes COVID-19, the newest form of coronaviral disease in people,” said Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, University of Maine Cooperative Extension veterinarian, associate professor, and director of the Extension veterinary diagnostic laboratory. “While this new disease is a real concern, it’s important to use common sense in responding to the current outbreak.”
Part of that common sense approach is making sure you have enough resources on hand to manage and care for livestock and pets. You also should have backup plans in place if needed.
Planning for livestock
Every farm and homestead should have a list of trusted animal tenders that can be called in during an emergency. Each should also have a disaster kit that is stocked at all times and placed in a central location on the farm. These kits should include:
— Current list of all animals including their location on the property, veterinary records and feeding schedules.
— Supplies for temporary identification of each animal like plastic neck bands and permanent markers so anyone coming in to tend the animals knows which critter is which.
— Basic first aid items including antibiotic ointment, bandages, absorbent cotton, latex gloves, gauze dressing pads, rubbing alcohol, oral syringes for dosing medications by mouth, sterile saline solution for rinsing wounds and scissors for cutting dressings.
— Handling equipment for each kind of animal like halters, collars, rope and leashes.
— Water buckets, feed bowls and water bowls.
— Tools and supplies needed for cleaning up after the animals.
— Clear instructions on the daily feeding and care for each animal.
Planning for pets
Should you become unexpectedly separated from your pets, planning ahead will be important both for their wellbeing and your piece of mind. This means having a list of trusted friends, family members or pet-sitters who are aware of your travel plans and who are available to step in and take care of your animals at a moments notice.
— Food for two to four weeks.
— Medical records for each pet in a waterproof container or bag.
— A minimum of two months worth of any medication(s) that your pet takes. As flea and tick season approaches have preventative treatments on hand, too.
— One gallon of water per animal per day for at least five days plus an extra gallon per day for cleaning.
— Sturdy leashes and pet carriers.
— ID tags for each pet in case one gets lost.
— Detailed feeding instructions and contact information for their veterinarians.
— Bags to collect waste.
— For cats, kitty litter, a litter scoop and bags for the used litter.
If you are traveling be sure to have the contact numbers for your pet and livestock sitters, kennel, boarding facility or daycare and contact them immediately if your return plans change due to flight cancellations or a quarantine situation.
“The best thing [people] can do is not panic and stay healthy for your pets by practicing good preventive measures, such as hand washing and avoiding close contact with other people,” said Sharon Harvey, president of the Animal Protective League in a press release. “Every single day of the year it is crucial that you have a back-up plan in place for your pets in the event you become ill and cannot care for them for a period of time — even when there’s not a looming threat of pandemic.”