In the world of viruses, the new coronavirus is an infant.  It was born into the presence of mankind only four short months ago in Wuhan, China.  Since then, this coronavirus has invaded virtually every corner of the earth while seeking its human target.

Although we already know a lot about this virus and the disease it causes, this is a fluid situation and we are constantly learning more.

For example, the sick tiger at the Bronx Zoo that tested positive for coronavirus became headline news.  Feline lovers everywhere began to wonder if their Fluffy could be next.  This news came on the heels of the story about the sick cat in Belgium who tested positive for the new coronavirus, and the positive but asymptomatic dog in Hong Kong.

In each of these cases, the animal’s caregiver was coronavirus-positive and apparently passed the virus transiently to the tiger, cat, and dog.  Fortunately, these are rare events as there has not been a surge in ill pets despite the global pandemic affecting millions of people.

Fortunately, also, in every documented case of an animal becoming infected by a person, the animal has recovered.  Animals are more likely to catch the virus from humans than transmit it, but it would be prudent to take precautions if a cat or dog appears ill with suspicious symptoms.

Because we are still learning about this virus, out of an abundance of caution, quarantined pet lovers should isolate themselves from their cats and dogs.  Pet parents should also wipe down their pet’s fur and paws if they have been outdoors in areas where the virus may linger.

On a happier note, this stay-at-home period is a great time to do more with your pet.  If you’re healthy, Fido and Fluffy are the buddies with whom you can hang out.  Here’s a list to get you started:

Grooming – It’s been about a month since groomers closed their doors, and your pet’s hairdo may soon need a make-over.  Brushing out the winter coat will look and feel great, and reduce housecleaning, too.  If your pet is matted, try a comb or use electric clippers designed for pet fur.  Scissors are not recommended as snipping tight mats can accidently cut skin, too.

Pet Pedicures – This is something every pet parent can learn.  Start slowly and reward your pet with lots of praise and treats.  It helps to have a good assistant to hold your pet so the event doesn’t become a chase around the house.  You can trim Fluffy’s nails with human nail clippers, but you’ll need dog nail clippers for Fido.  Styptic powder is available from online stores and should be handy, just in case.

Leash-training – Walking nicely on a leash is more important now than ever.  During this social distancing time, getting Fido out for a walk means he’ll have to stay next to you when other people are nearby.  Leash-training takes both time and patience, but the rewards are huge.

Obedience – Most pets would benefit from extra education.  Decide on fun tricks and new boundaries for Fido and Fluffy.  That’s right, cats can be trained, too.  Get the whole family on board, and remember that consistency is the key to success.

Exercise – With gyms closed and social outings cancelled, its easy to choose Fido to be your personal trainer.  If your Fido has been a couch potato, he may need time to get into shape.  Sports injuries such as pulled muscles and sprained ligaments happen in pets, too.

Agility – Once you’ve mastered your pet’s obedience and exercise, give agility a try.  With some imagination, you can set up a fun agility track in your backyard.

Baking – If the kitchen is your comfort zone and baking is your thing, consider homemade treats for Fido and Fluffy.  A quick online search will give you lots of ideas.

Adopt a pet – This stay-at-home period is a wonderful time to welcome a new pet.  With the kids home from school and many adults working from home, a new pet would adjust more quickly to his new forever home.

A final note to all pet parents during this pandemic – your veterinarians and their devoted team members are essential workers and are available for you and your pets during this challenging time.  To help protect the public, most veterinary practices are now offering curbside service for pets and are prohibiting clients from entering the hospital.  If your pet is ill, kindly notify the office if someone in your home may have the coronavirus or is quarantined so that the veterinary team can prepare and protect themselves.  Also, wearing a facemask is not only recommended by the CDC, it is also good manners while your pet is being transferred and helps keep everybody safe.  Take care and stay well.