India has been facing a tough situation both economically and emotionally due to the pandemic that has affected us all. There is so much misinformation on the internet about our paw friends. Every day hundreds of pets were being abandoned on the streets overnight even before Covid19 and now the situation has gotten worse. There are multiple people testing positive for Corona every day in India. In some homes, pets are a recreation for the patients and at some places due to lack of care and time, they are being abandoned. Dr. Priyadarshini Govind, MVSc Surgery (Madras Veterinary College) and PGD Behavioural Medicine (University of Sydney) Companion animal practitioner and surgeon who handles hundreds of cases every day and even during Covid19, makes us understand our paw friends better during these tough times.

What diet should pet parents follow during these tough times?
Honestly, just the routine diet as they have always been following, provided the dogs continue to exercise and walk regularly, if not on the roads, at least within the apartment complex or terrace.

After Covid19 what’s the most common case you have handled?
A lot of cases of obesity in dogs are due to the lack of exercise, which again weigh down to laziness on part of the owners and Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour like self-grooming the reason being the same. Cats on the other hand are not so used to having human company all the time and in fact, savour their space, also showed stress related behaviours like improper excretion and excessive grooming etc

When the pet parent is quarantined, what are the steps they should follow?
They need to get their system in place and not let their illnesses affect the physical and mental health of their dogs. They can arrange for a dog walker, so that the walks happen and the animal’s routine is not changed.

Does Covid19 affect your pet when the pet parent is tested positive?
There have been some cases of cats getting the infection from their owners. So just like in humans where precautions were taken to self-isolate from the rest of the family, the same rules hold good for their animal companion also. Though personally, I felt self isolation can depress a person so I actually encouraged folks to spend time grooming their dogs and interacting with them as a form of therapy to boost one’s morale.

What makes people abandon their pet animals during Covid19?
Ignorance and selfishness. People who want to abandon their dogs will abandon them anyway without a thought. Covid 19 was again an excuse to justify such behaviour. While a number of folks spent tens of thousands of rupees on buying new pups from breeders there were very few folks who actually thought that it was ok to adopt a stray pup or a Covid orphan.

What’s your advice to the pet lovers who are helpless during Corona?
There is really no reason to be helpless. Where there is a will there is always a way. On a personal note, I never shut my practice through all the lockdowns and continued to work because I felt it was my duty and my purpose.

When people are locked inside their pets are the only source of positivity. Is there any life-changing story you came across?
There are so many to list but I am just truly appreciative of all the people who opened their hearts and homes to Covid orphans and those who adopted strays and gave them forever homes rather than pick up a pup from a breeder.

– By Vinitha Venkatesha