COVID-19 and Pet Safety

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Common household cleaners and medications could put your pet at risk if not used or stored responsibly. It’s necessary to prepare and have a plan in place for your pets in the event that you become ill or hospitalized from the virus. By taking a few extra steps, you can ensure every member of your family, including the 4-legged ones, remain safe and healthy during this time.  

Household cleaners and chemicals
Amid COVID-19 concerns, if you have increased the frequency of routine cleaning and disinfection recently, you are not alone. Here at the Lexington Humane Society, we are disinfecting surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs, every two hours in addition to our already rigorous cleaning schedule. At home, you may be using products such as Lysol to disinfect common areas daily. While it’s important to continue to follow CDC recommendations for routine cleaning and disinfection, it’s just as important to keep your pets safety in mind while doing so.

According to Alex Ellis, DVM and Maddie’s Fund Shelter Medicine Resident, “phenol-containing cleaners can be toxic to cats and their use is not recommended.  Many of these products will have the suffix ‘-sol’ in the name, but when in doubt, it is a good idea to read the ingredient list and the Safety Data Sheet (available online). Some, but not all, formulations of Lysol contain a phenol. I would also advise against products that contain strong fragrances or essential oils (Pine Oil) as they can cause irritation. The original formulation of Pine Sol contained a very high percentage of pine oil and for this reason toxicity was a concern. The product has since been reformulated and pine oil is no longer an ingredient unless specially ordered. Be sure to check the label of any product.”

Common household cleaners and medications could put your pet at risk if not used or stored responsibly.

We understand this is a difficult time and with limited supply options, you may not have a choice in which cleaner or disinfectant you have access to. We are certainly not advising you to throw out your Lysol and stop disinfecting; we are asking that you strongly keep your pets in mind as you go through your cleaning routine with such products. Always keep chemical cleaners stored in a safe place that cannot be reached by pets. Never spray chemicals near your pets; they should be confined in another, well-ventilated room while chemicals are being used. All surfaces with chemicals should be completely dry before allowing your pets near them and the area should be completely free of any fumes. If you are ever unsure about which products are safe or need recommendations, partnering with your veterinarian is always a good idea.

Human medications
Whether you’re actively taking medication or just stocking up, don’t forget that human medications such as pain killers (including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen), vitamins, and cold and flu medicines can all be toxic to animals. Keep medication containers and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets that could chew through them, and be vigilant about finding and disposing of any dropped pills.

If you suspect your pet has ingested medication, a chemical, or is having a reaction, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center operates a hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888-426-4435.

Be prepared and have a plan
It’s important to identify a close friend, family member or pet-sitter that can care for your pets in the event you do become ill or hospitalized. We know that’s not a very fun thought, but it’s imperative you have a plan in place for such a scenario.

  • Have crates, food and extra supplies on hand for quick movement of pets.
  • Keep all animal vaccines up to date in the event boarding becomes necessary.
  • Ensure all medications are documented with dosages and administering directions. Including the prescription from your veterinarian is also helpful.
  • Pets should have identification: collar with ID tag and microchip

It’s always a good idea to follow basic hygiene practices around animals. This includes washing your hands thoroughly before and after direct contact with your pets, their food or their supplies. Remember to keep medication, cleaners and disinfectants away from your pets and have a plan in place in the event you become ill from the virus. To stay up-to-date on any developments at Lexington Humane Society in response to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 information page here.

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