Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Pet Love in the Time of COVID and Cicadas

Pet Love in the Time of COVID and Cicadas

By Steph Selice

The world is opening up again, and people can’t wait to enjoy post-pandemic life with their families, including their animals. How will this summer be different for our pets, and what should we be aware of?

Caring for Our Pets in the Aftercorona . . .

Many pet lovers have postposed vet care during lockdown, so home-visit and clinic-based vets expect a busy summer. Millions of Americans (including first-time pet folks) have welcomed new animals in the last year, which set records for pet adoptions nationwide. Vets suggest that your pets have checkups, current vaccinations, and flea/tick treatments before they interact again with other people outdoors or in your home, whether or not those humans are vaccinated. Make sure your pets, even the ones who live only indoors, have microchips (with current contact information in the online registry) and wear collars or IDs.

Because many of us have changed daily schedules or stayed home more than usual, our family dynamics may have changed, which affects pet behavior and well-being. Dogs and cats in particular like their routines, and many of these have been disrupted. Vets are recommending that we give our pets the attention, time, and space they need as we go back to regular work and school schedules. Just as life transitions are tough on humans, they can be stressful for our pets.

Vets suggest we ease our pets into new schedules slowly. Playing with your pets and keeping them active and engaged will help them feel loved—and happily tired afterward. This will make it easier to leave home as part of your new normal routine.

As you bring family and friends home again, reintroduce the people and pets your love to each other under supervision, perhaps after an initial separation in a different room, and with all paws on deck. Dogs, cats, and other pets may be territorial about having had you and your family all to themselves for a year, so be patient: now they have to share you again!

. . . and the After-Cicada

Some vet clinics report visits regarding Brood X cicadas, particularly when pets have dined on some. Live cicadas should be done visiting Virginia by July. Eating a cicada carcass or two should be safe for your dog or cat, but gorging on them (or other insects) may bring a bellyache, cramping, or diarrhea. As with any other pet dining experience, sampling, moderation, and human supervision are key. Call your vet if you suspect an unusual feast may have upset your pet.

Celebrating This Summer’s Events Safely

The busiest day in U.S. animal shelters every year is July 5. Animal experts expect that, with millions of people celebrating outside for the first time since lockdown, America’s 245th anniversary will be particularly challenging for our pets. What can we do to make this July 4th, and all our outdoor celebrations this summer, safer and less stressful for them?

Fireworks. The best way to keep your pets safe on July 4thor during other loud celebrations is to keep them home. Animals don’t like loud noises or the lights and smells of fireworks. Flyovers or the sounds of ceremonial weapons being fired can also disturb them. Be kind to your pets and leave them safely at home, where they feel safe and secure.

Barbecues. We often love to share treats with our pets. But some food for humans is toxic for them, and alcohol and other drugs should never be shared. Be careful using charcoal, lighter fluid, grill cleaners, bug repellants, and lawn sprays around animals. Know where your pets are when you’re grilling and what they’re eating and playing with.

Breathing/Hyperventilation. Some dog and cat breeds (including Persians, pugs, Pekinese, bulldogs, and pets with asthma or allergies) may have trouble breathing in hot, humid weather. Look for changes in your pet’s breathing: panting, drooling, wheezing, coughing, or erratic or irregular sounds. Call your vet if bringing your pet indoors doesn’t ease symptoms.

Sunstroke/Heatstroke and Sun Protection. Because your pets can’t keep cool the way you do, help them out by shading them from the sun and giving them cool water to drink. If your cats or dogs start to pant, drool a lot, or have bright red gums, take them inside and use cool water and cool, wet towels to lower their body temperature. Then call your vet.

Vehicles. Every summer, dozens of pets nationwide die in locked cars that have reached internal temperatures well above 100⁰ F. Never leave your pet alone in a parked car. When you’re driving, have your pet tethered inside in a pet-safety belt. Don’t let them stick their heads out the window or ride on the flatbed. And beware of distractions, objects, or food that could harm your pet.

Walking on Hot Surfaces. Vets out West first suggested a test to check whether pavement is safe for dogs to walk on: hold the back of your hand to the road surface for 7 seconds. If you can’t, then it’s too hot for your pet’s pawpads.

Water (Chlorinated, Fresh, or Salt). Dogs often love playing in water; some rabbits and cats do, too. Pool water is unsafe for animals to drink, and fresh or salt water is safe only if you’re there to supervise the fun. If you’re out in a boat, wear a life jacket and store a first-aid kit, and make sure your pet has one of each, too.

Enjoy a safe, fun summer with your pets!


“COVID-19: If You Have Pets”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 30, 2021. If You Have Pets | COVID-19 | CDC

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