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What Happens to My Animals If I Get Sick?

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Who can resist this look?

Prepare Ahead of Time

Many of us are stuck at home in self-quarantine or shelter in place orders due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to our family members and neighbors, our animals are also depending on us to provide and care for them. What happens if you become quite sick or hospitalized? I don’t want to be a Doomsday Damsel, but it is better to be prepared now and NOT have to use emergency measures than to be caught off-guard scrambling to pull information together and find help at the last minute.

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Laylah in her cat bed

Prepare A Comprehensive List of Pets, Food, Medicines, and Inoculation Records

For each pet, prepare a folder with the pet’s name, perhaps a picture (remember, a stranger may have to be called in to assist), the pet’s food type and daily amount, medications, and health records. If your pet has to be brought to a boarding facility, they will need these records. It is also helpful to describe exactly where the food and meds can be found in your house and even a description of the bags. Label everything!

Along with the health records, be sure to include the contact information for your pet’s veterinarian, any pet sitters used in the past, as well as helpful notes about the pet’s behavior, likes and dislikes, hiding places, favorite bedding and toys.

If the pets cannot be cared for in the home, it’s smart to designate the location of cat kennels, leashes, special collars, dog crates, etc. that may be needed to transport the pet or set them up in an alternate location. Have a list of your preferred kennels or pet sitters along with contact information.

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Lovely Lexi — a very agreeable pooch

Prepare A Simplified Care Regime for Larger Pets, Like Horses

Many boarding facilities have been shut down to only essential personnel–those who feed, clean, and care for the horses. This has been very hard on owner/boarders who are not allowed to visit their horses. For those of us who keep our horses at home or on self-care at a facility, it is time to think about what to do if you are no longer able to do the taxing physical work it takes to care for them. Who do you have as back-up? Often times a spouse, friend, or neighbor is not a “horse person” and will not be comfortable putting on halters, leading horses in and out of stalls, etc.

In this case, it may be wise to formulate a “lower maintenance” plan for keeping the horses fed but minimizing their handling, stall cleaning, etc. Is there a way for them to eat outside? Do you have all their water troughs cleaned and filled regularly? Do you have enough hay and feed brought in so a caregiver would not have to run out for more?


I am formulating a plan that will cut down on a non-horse-savvy individual having to handle my horses. I’m thinking my two retired geldings can eat from the hay feeder outside in the barnyard and still have shelter from bad weather and access to water. My show mare might have to live with the back door of her stall propped open so she can come into the stall for shelter and food, but let herself out again into a small paddock. Though not ideal, this plans requires the helper only to feed and fill water until I was on my feet again.

Of course, the owner should write out the same explicit feeding instructions and vet records recommended above for each horses along with specific needs such as grazing muzzle, cribbing strap, bell boots, etc. It is essential that emergency contact information include the vet, but also the farrier with a backup, trainer, and perhaps a reliable horse person who could be called on for questions or concerns. Keep this information in the barn as well as in the house.

In the Meantime…Enjoy Being Home with Your Pets!

To end on a positive note, enjoy this extra time with your pets. Get out with your dog for a walk (if possible), spend quality time napping with your kitty, or give your horse a “spa day” grooming treatment. So often we race from one task to another ticking down a to-do list before the day is done. Now we have time thrust upon us, forcing us to slow down and appreciate what we have. Love your pets, make sure they’ll be safe and secure, and give them a big hug.

If you have additional thoughts, advice, or tips please share them!

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Lucida looking out her stall window

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