During these unprecedented times, many pet owners are wondering how to treat animals in discomfort, how to make visits to the vet safe, whether over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are a safe alternative, and more.


Your first question when your animal seems to have a health issue should always be “Can I get in touch with my vet?”. Even in this pandemic, veterinarians are considered “essential,” so you should have the ability to get an answer from your own vet via the phone, or go to an emergency vet in the immediate area. It is NEVER a good idea to just pill your pet without a consultation. So, step number one, before you give your dog or cat anything OTC, call a vet.


In preparation for this call, it would be helpful to have your pet’s records nearby for your call, or in your hand if you need an emergency visit. These records show recent vaccines, any medications your animal is already on, what dosage is being used, and any other recent illness your pet might have had. Knowing what the dog or cat is taking removes the chance of suggesting a drug that would interfere, or interact badly, with what your pet already takes.


Depending on your pet’s situation, it may be necessary to take them to the vet to get them the diagnosis and treatment that they need. To help you make this as smooth a process as possible during COVID-19, we have provided the following tips:


Tips for if You Need to Take Your Pet to the Vet


Tip #1. For the future, you should always know where your pet’s records are. You never know when an emergency like this pandemic might arise, or a tornado or hurricane that would make it necessary to make a quick relocation. If you need to cross state lines and/or need to board your pet, you will need proof of state required vaccines like rabies.


Tip #2. Always keep a copy of your pet’s medical records in your car’s glove compartment. Today, where vets and vet technicians are coming out to the car, collecting the dog, and treating them without you in the exam room, having your vet records at the ready facilitates an efficient visit.


Tip #3. While your pet is in the clinic, it is a perfect opportunity to find your credit card or check book.


Tip #4. In any unsettling time, pets can get loose, even those who would normally never leave your property or challenge your fence. Make sure your dog or cat (even if it is an indoor cat) has proper identification, and better yet is microchipped. While collars with tags are an excellent source of ID, they can fall off, be lost, or be taken off if your dog is being x-rayed or treated.


Tip #5. Additionally, you can assemble a pet first aid kit and keep it in an easy to find location. It should contain gauze, non-stick bandages, adhesive tape, hydrogen peroxide (3%), digital thermometer, muzzle and spare leash. Here is a link to the AVMA Pet First Aid Brochure.


Tips about Pets and OTC Medications


Tip #1. Regarding OTC medications – the short answer is that many are not safe for pets. And you should not attempt to give your pets human medication unless that medication (and dosage) has been previously cleared by your veterinarian. It is unfortunately common for owners to assume human medications are safe for their pets. Each species is different regarding their metabolism and sensitivity to any medication. Unfortunately, one dose of an OTC medication can cause a life-threatening or fatal reaction. And remember, a cat is NOT a small dog! Just because you can give a medication to Rover does not mean you can give it to Fluffy. A good number to keep handy for many mishaps, from wrong meds to snake bites, is the Animal Poison Control Hotline (888) 426-4435.


Tip #2. A good rule in any household is to keep all medications out of reach of pets – they do love investigating and sniffing new scents.


Tips for Pain Relief Alternatives for Your Pet


Safe alternatives to use for an arthritic and uncomfortable pet at home are ice, heat, massage and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.


Tip #1. Ice therapy decreases muscle spasms by reducing the muscle metabolism. Ice is safely used in acute situations of discomfort and chronic exacerbations. You can use ice packs but if you don’t have any handy a frozen bag of peas can work well.


Tip #2. Heat therapy relieves spasms, increases circulation and increases joint mobility. Heat should not be used in acute situations of injury or swelling. It is safe to be used 72 hours after an injury. If in doubt apply cold.


Tip #3. Massage can increase blood and lymphatic circulation. It is especially helpful in painful, overworked muscles and spasms.


Tip #4. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) delivered by Assisi products is a safe alternative to OTC medications and non-steroidal medications typically used in painful conditions. PEMF modulates the body’s response to pain and inflammation by enhancing nitric oxide. The Loop’s signal is cleared by the FDA for reduction of pain and edema in humans. Its performance in peer-reviewed veterinary clinical trials has mimicked human results. The Loop is compatible with other in-clinic anti-inflammatory modalities used by veterinarians and frequently is used to replace other pain medications.


Tip #5. Google and internet searching is very good for information at our fingertips but is not good for advice on pets. Please check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any over-the-counter medications. If an accidental medication ingestion occurs please call poison control. Otherwise feel free to refer to the above information for safe emergency treatment.