As we approach the new year, it seems like learning how to live in the middle of a pandemic seems natural at this point. But as cases continue to rise, it is still vital to consider keeping yourself, others, and your dog(s) safe from COVID-19. We all know to wear our masks in public and keep 6-feet apart from others, but what else do we need to know to reduce the risk of contracting the virus? Can your dog get COVID-19? Can you spread the virus to your dog? How can I let my dog outside and still be socially distant from others? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article called “COVID-19 and Animals,” which confirmed that “pets [such as dogs can become] sick after contact with people with COVID-19”. In the same article, it further states that “studies suggest that dogs can get infected but might not spread the virus to other dogs as easily as cats and ferrets can spread the virus to other animals of the same species.”
Understand Your Veterinarian’s COVID Restrictions
Heading out of the house to do everyday things has changed drastically in the past year. Many places have certain restrictions that are in place for everyone’s safety – including you and your dog. It’s worth considering looking up or inquiring about what your local veterinarian expects from its patients before arrival. Understanding the rules/regulations that may have changed due to COVID-19 at your veterinarian’s office will help you prepare for your trip or help you save time. Your vet may be meeting you in their parking lot to take your pet in for their appointment. Your vet may take a video appointment for your pet. Even making your pet’s appointment may be different from what you are used to doing. Just like hospitals, veterinarian practices are overwhelmed and busier than usual, so plan ahead and expect to wait longer than what you are used to. Contact your local veterinarian’s offices or visit their websites to learn their COVID-19 safety measures.
Don’t Forget Your Mask, Hand Sanitizer, and Doggy Bags For Your Daily Walks.
Add another one or two things on your list while you leave the house to talk your dog on a walk: a mask or hand sanitizer.
Remember to wear a mask when taking your dog out on a walk. Leave a mask near your doggy bag so you can get in and out of the house quicker if you are forgetful. Keep yourself and others in mind by wearing your mask properly while walking your dog in high foot traffic or community areas. Doing so will help avoid any chance of coming into contact with others who may be carriers of the virus. Bring along hand sanitizer will come in handy for any time you touch any surfaces others may handle. It is also something to freshen up your hands after picking up after your dog.
Consider new trails/hikes to take your dog on to avoid coming in contact with crowds. Some places that Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH, and Catherine Barnette, DVM from VCA Hospitals advise dog owners to avoid are “dog parks and busy trails.” Though it may dwindle your options of taking your dog on a walk, avoiding these high foot traffic areas ensures a safe, socially distant walk for you and your dog. Always remember to keep yourself and your dog 6-feet apart from others while on your walk.
What if I get COVID-19 or Someone I Live With or Know Does?
Quarantining yourself from your dog may be more challenging than quarantining yourself from others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pet owners with COVID-19 to “avoid contact with your pet including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sharing food, and sleeping in the same bed.” Avoiding your dog sounds quite difficult; knowing how loving and dependent your dog may be around you. This sudden change in their routine may be confusing for them, but ensuring their safety and health should be a number one priority.
Consider creating a plan ahead of time to know who can or is willing to help take care of your dog when you or someone else in the home is trying to recover. Somebody your dog is familiar with and trusts may make the transition a little bit easier. If you live with family or roommates, someone who has tested negative and is in no contact with those in the home who are quarantining can take the lead in taking care of your dog.
If you are the only person who can take care of your pet while you recover from Covid-19, the CDC recommends pet owners to “wear a mask and wash your hands before and after you interact with [your pets].”
Remember that if you contract Covid-19 to quarantine yourself and stay home unless medical attention is necessary. Don’t feel bad about leaving your responsibilities to others when trying to take care of your health. The worst thing that could happen is spreading the virus to others, including your beloved dog.
Photography by The Media Plant