COVID-19 and Pets – Responsible Ownership

In these unprecedented and challenging times, many people are greatly impacted by the negative effects of isolation. Pets provide us the ability to combat a portion of the loneliness and anxiety being felt by those effects. Our pets can offer us a sense of normalcy as they are a consistent part of our daily routine. Canine companions in particular provide an excuse for many of us to take a break when working at home in order to get fresh air and exercise. The benefits of pets on certain aspects of human health are well documented.

It has been noted that in Alberta during this pandemic pet adoptions are increasing in numbers. The reasons behind this are likely many fold; examples include support and companionship during isolation and additional free time to devote to training these new companions, among many other factors.

The pandemic however will end at some point, and we will hopefully be able to re-establish a sense of “normalcy” in our lives with many of us returning to full time work outside the home. This in itself can be stressful to a new pet that has become used to their human companions being home with them at all times and the routines that they have developed with their new owners.


The American Veterinary Medical Association has the following guidelines (listed below) about responsible pet ownership that we would like to provide as resources if you are taking on this new responsibility:

  • Lifelong care of the pet. This means committing to the relationship for your pet’s entire life.
  • Selecting a pet that is suited to your home and lifestyle and avoiding impulsive decisions.
  • Recognizing that owning a pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.
  • Keeping only the type and number of pets for which you can provide an appropriate and safe environment. This includes appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
  • Animals that spend extended periods of time outside require habitats that protect their health, safety, and welfare. Outdoor confinement of an animal should include provisions to minimize distress or discomfort to the animal, and assure access to appropriate food, water, and shelter from extreme weather conditions.
  • Ensuring pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that their registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date
  • Adhering to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.
  • Helping to manage overpopulation by controlling your pet(s)’ reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter.
  • Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
  • Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of your pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, your veterinarian.
  • Socialization and appropriate training for your pet(s) to facilitate their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.
  • Preventing your pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment. This includes proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.
  • Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to your pet(s)’ age, breed, and health status.
  • Include your pets in your planning for an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
  • Making arrangements for the care of your pet when or if you are unable to do so.
  • Recognizing declines in your pet(s)’ quality of life and making decisions in consultation with your veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia).

Another aspect of pet ownership to consider when adopting a new pet, is researching various pet insurance options. As described above, during the life of your pet there are basic health needs, including health assessments, vaccinations, spay/neuter, emergencies and possible aging related diseases to take into account. There can, and likely will be, unexpected costs associated with sudden illnesses or chronic conditions that develop over the life of your pet. Pet insurance can be very helpful to assist with unexpected costs. Note that such programs do not typically cover routine costs such as vaccination and health examinations.

There are a number of pet insurance providers in Canada from which you can choose, including PetPlan, Pets Plus Us, PetSecure, and Trupanion.
PetSecure and Trupanion have been generous sponsors for Tails of Help for the past several years.

Trupanion has a number of resource pages related to pet care, emergency needs and general tips and tricks for you to review while deciding on options for your new family pet.

General dog care:

General cat care:

Your pet and the vet:

COVID and insurance:

Pet Safety: