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Keeping calm during COVID-19: Why it’s important for you AND your pets!

Meet Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH and founder of concierge practice, Animal Acupuncture, based in New York City. Dr. Rachel Barrack is a licensed veterinarian with additional certifications in both veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbology.  Part of the luxury of Dr. Barrack is that she provides on-site, integrative treatment to animals– ranging from smaller pets, like dogs and cats, to larger equine athletes and show horses.  All in […]

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Meet Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH and founder of concierge practice, Animal Acupuncturebased in New York City.

Dr. Rachel Barrack is a licensed veterinarian with additional certifications in both veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbology.  Part of the luxury of Dr. Barrack is that she provides on-site, integrative treatment to animals– ranging from smaller pets, like dogs and cats, to larger equine athletes and show horses.  All in the comfort of your own home/barn, Dr. Barrack diagnoses your pet, assesses the best treatment plan and administers acupuncture and Chinese herbology.    

Right now, Dr. Barrack along with the rest of New York City and many cities and states around the world, are currently quarantined due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  But… DO NOT PANIC.  Repeat, DO NOT PANIC.  Staying calm, safe and healthy is vital for your mental health, as well as your pets.  We chatted with Dr. Barrack on what to do during this Pandemic and beyond!

Q: Why is staying calm during COVID-19 so important?

Dr. Rachel Barrack: In light of the coronavirus crisis, right now is an uncertain time for everyone, worldwide.  While uncertainty can bring up a range of emotions and being scared and having concerns is warranted and normal, embracing fear and panicking does not help the situation.  Take solace in the fact that we are globally united and all in this together.  Health officials across the globe are doing their best to control this pandemic.

Identify what helps you feel calmer— Perhaps that means minimizing news exposure, calling or facetiming a friend or family member to help alleviate feelings of social isolation, reading a book, watching a great movie, and/or exercising.   

One of the most valuable resources we have for comfort are our pets.  Pets provide unconditional love.  This can improve one’s quality of life in many ways.  Physically owning a dog forces someone to be more active. Emotionally, pets help to reduce loneliness and give people a sense of purpose and object of affection.  Interacting with pets has also been shown to reduce stress and even blood pressure levels. 

Social distancing is crucial to controlling this pandemic but not social distancing from animals. Perhaps now is the time to open your doors and become a foster pet parent to a cat or dog in need.  Shelters nationwide need people to temporarily (or permanently) care for the animals in their care. The AVMA , CDC, WHO, and OIE have all stated that SARS-COV2 has not been currently shown to infect animals and that animals are not a source of spreading COVID 19. 

Q: Do animals feed off of our energy?

Dr. Rachel Barrack: Humans and pets have always had a strong bond. Animals become attuned to their owner’s moods and provide unconditional love.  At the same time, they ask for very little in return.  This makes our furry family members so valuable.  Dogs particularly seem to have a “sixth sense” about their owners’ emotions.  

Q: When people are panicked about food and household items, should we be buying in bulk for our animals too, if so what?

Dr. Rachel Barrack: As you’re stocking the pantry with your personal essentials, make sure to have enough of your pet’s food, medications, kitty litter, wee wee pads, etc. on hand.  A 30-day supply is recommended.

Q: What are the 3 best tips you can share for pet owners right now?

Dr. Rachel Barrack:

  • Socially isolate
  • Stay calm
  • Be proactive.  Have your pet’s essentials (per above) and be prepared. In the event you are unable to care for your pet, write instructions of their daily needs and designate a trusted family member or friend to be an emergency care giver.  If you must care for your pet and have contacted the disease, wash your hands before and after and wear a mask.

Q: Is walking outside safe for you and your pet)?

Dr. Rachel Barrack: Some fresh air, sunshine, and movement can be therapeutic for you and your dog.  Dogs need walks for exercise and to relieve themselves.  Leash walks, in which you and your pet maintain a minimum of 6-foot distance between other people and pets at all times, are advisable and safe. 

Q: Should you be social distancing with your pet or keep them close by?

Dr. Rachel Barrack: There is absolutely no need to social distance from your pet.  Instead snuggle and take comfort in your furry family members.

Q: Any other relevant facts?

Dr. Rachel Barrack: This virus is novel for veterinarians too but as of now, based on all available information, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible between humans and animals.  Therefore, a dog cannot get coronavirus from an infected person or vice versa.  

That being said, the virus can be spread fomites which are contaminated surfaces. The likelihood is low but potential fomites include your pet’s fur.  So, to minimize risk factors, do not allow “nonessential” individuals to pet and interact with your dog at this time. That means no doggy play dates, trips to the groomer or dog park and only visits to the veterinarian should your pet be sick and need emergency medical care.

Practice good hygiene for yourself and your pet.  Wash your hands frequently.  Should you suspect your dog came into contact with a possible contaminant, a bath is advisable.  There is no reason to not interact with your pet as you normally do— pets are a wonderful source of comfort during these stressful times and great couch buddies while maintaining social isolation to limit the spread of  this virus.

For more on Dr. Rachel Barrack, visit: animalacupuncture.com.  Also follow along on her Instagram, @AnimalAcupuncture for tips and news related to the Coronavirus.

Photo: ℅ Animal Acupuncture

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