How to safely enjoy your pet during self-isolation


Jewish Rhode Island asked Dr. Jane Linden, a veterinarian and the owner of the Providence River Animal Hospital, about the effects of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders on pets. Here is some of our conversation:

In general, Linden said, “Most pets are happier now that we are home. They are enjoying the company. How great is it that you have an animal in the house? It’s also a good time to introduce an animal into the household because you are home. But make sure to spend time apart, too.”

Vets worry, she said, about what will happen when we begin to leave the house and leave our pets alone again. To avoid an anxious and/or lonely pet when that time comes, Linden recommended that you establish a routine: “Keep your pet in another room occasionally so they get some separation and aren’t shocked” by your absence.

On exercising with your pet: “Be careful,” she said. “Suddenly owners are home and want to go running with the dog, who has been a couch potato. You can see injuries. You have to work up to it.”

On affordability concerns: “People who have lost their job and cannot care for their pets, or afford to get care for their pets, need to remember there are assistance programs to help with that.” [One such program is the Pet Food Pantry, 401-421-1399.]  

On COVID-19: “It appears to be incredibly rare in cats and ferrets, but we are still learning. Animals can’t give it to humans, but humans may be able to give it to animals.

“We have really big fears that people are going to start abandoning their pets. It doesn’t seem that the disease is as severe in pets.

“Use common sense if you think or know you have COVID-19. Don’t cuddle with your pet until you are better. Try to isolate the pet. But that doesn’t mean you should get rid of your pet.”

On vet care with social distancing: “I don’t want pets to go without regular vaccines as that will lead to other problems later,” Linden said.

Like many veterinary offices, Providence River Animal Hospital is continuing to see  animals, but a staff member will come to the car to pick up the pet.

Linden said she didn’t expect how hard it is for people to hand over their pet to a vet tech. To help with that, PRAH is now using Airvet, a smartphone app that lets pet owners observe exams and talk directly to the vet.

FRAN OSTENDORF ( is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.