Here's what pet stores are doing during coronavirus closures

"All Petco stores are open and continuing to provide the essential products and services for pets who are counting on us in these uncertain times," said the national brand in a statement to TODAY.Pet Valu senior marketing manager Alexandra Home told TODAY that since pet stores are a "primary source" of pet food and supplies, they are considered to be essential stores and are currently open to the public to "supply pet parents with everything that they need."

In-store shopping

For those in areas where in-store shopping is still an option, some pet stores have revealed details about their safety and cleaning protocols. PetSmart , which include the following, in a press release:
  • Store associates are "following regular cleaning practices using a disinfectant formulated to kill coronavirus, among other germs, and have increased the frequency of cleanings of key customer touch points" like doorknobs, shopping carts and checkout kiosks.
  • Grooming tables, kennels, water bowls, food bowls and toys are cleaned and disinfected between every pet service.
  • Grooming tools are cleaned and disinfected between every pet service.
  • All surfaces and playrooms are cleaned nightly.
  • Air filters are changed weekly to maintain "clean, healthy air" in grooming areas.
PetSmart says it is also "closely following guidelines" from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and national public health agencies.Homa said that Pet Valu stores will focus on extra cleaning during this time. She also clarified that the stores have not seen any shortages of supplies , and they are not expecting any in the future.

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"There's so many selections (of pet food) that it's not necessarily any one brand that people are coming in for," she explained. "We have not run into inventory issues in our stores, yet. ... Our warehouses have been able to replenish and our stores get trucks each week."

It's also a good idea to prepare an emergency kit for your pets . The American Humane Society recommends having two weeks' worth of pet food on hand and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also recommends having a 30-day supply of your pet's medication.Petco told TODAY that beginning March 17, store hours nationwide are being limited to allow for "appropriate and efficient re-stocking and to limit the amount of time both our customers and partners can interact in our stores." Other services like in-home dog training and online booking for grooming appointments are currently canceled.

Curbside and rapid pickup options

To limit time spent outside, try curbside or rapid pickup options. Petco's stores offer a system in which customers can place orders online and then pick up their prepared order in stores; local pet shops may have even more flexible options like curbside pickup available.

Online shopping

For those who don't want to leave their homes at all, pet food and supply deliveries may be the best option.

"The health, safety, and well-being of our team continues to be our top priority," Diane Pelkey, the vice president for communications and public relations at Chewy.com, told TODAY. "As of now, we plan to continue operations and are working diligently to fill all orders while ensuring a safe work environment for our team members."

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National chains said that they don't anticipate interruptions in service during the coronavirus pandemic. Getty Images stock

Pelkey noted that due to "higher customer demand," the retailer anticipates "deliveries taking slightly longer during this time," but did not provide any further details on the kind of delays pet owners could expect.

PetCo told TODAY that due to supply demands, they have stopped shipments of "non-essential" pet items including pet toys and animal apparel. However, other supplies will be available online.

"This is a rapidly evolving situation, and our team is working non-stop to meet the needs of all pet parents," said PetCo in a statement to TODAY. "In addition to our physical stores, we're ready to serve pet parents who are self-isolating."

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