As COVID-19 infections spike around the globe some governments are placing tough restrictions on the movement and interactions of their citizens.
What about pet owners and their pooches?
Can dogs catch and spread COVID-19? Is it OK to take your dog for a walk during the pandemic? Should you put a mask on your dog? Should you use hand sanitizer on your dog? If you test positive for COVID-19 should your quarantine include separating from your pooch? What if you suspect your dog has COVID-19?
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the British Government, the Australian Government’s Department of Health and government authorities in Europe and other parts of the world have issued specific guidelines and information for pet owners.
The CDC says:
A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported
to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact
with people with COVID-19.
Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading
COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to
animals in some situations.
Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact
with people outside the household.
CAN I TAKE MY DOG FOR A WALK?
The CDC says it is OK to take your dog for a walk, but recommends dogs should be on a leash and at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others. The CDC also recommends dog owners avoid walking in public places where a large number of people gather.
The British Government has introduced tough restrictions on the movement of its residents, but says “you may leave your home to care for or exercise your pet and other animals you own or keep”.
“You should stay 2 meters apart from anyone outside of your household or support bubble, or one metre with risk mitigation, such as wearing a face covering, where 2 meters is not viable,” the British Government recommends.
Dog owners should also avoid letting their dogs come into contact with other humans and other dogs on their walks. Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, said dog owners could catch COVID-19 if someone infected with the virus touches or coughs on your dog and then the dog owner touches the virus on the dog.
“So, someone could cough on your dog, you could have the virus on the dog's hair, pat the dog, etc,” Prof Kelly said.
MASKS FOR DOGS?
“Do not put a mask on pets,” the CDC warns, “Masks could harm your pet.”
CHEMICAL DISINFECTANTS FOR DOGS?
“Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners,” the CDC said.
“Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your pet.”
QUARANTINE WITH YOUR DOG?
The CDC says if you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you have it you should restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with people.
“Until we know more about this virus, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid
contact with pets and other animals,” the CDC says.
If you are sick with COVID-19 the CDC suggests:
When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
Avoid contact with your pet including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked,
sharing food, and sleeping in the same bed.
If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a
mask and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR DOG HAS COVID-19?
The CDC says if you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. They suggest you call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19. Your veterinarian may offer telemedicine consultations for your dog.
The British government says it is rare for an animal to contract coronavirus, and they tend to show only mild symptoms and recover within a few days.
The Brits suggest you should:
Wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet, its food and
Do not share food with your pet.
Avoid contact such as kissing or cuddling if you are self-isolating.
Check with your local governments and health authorities for the latest COVID-19 recommendations and guidelines.