According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is a threat to dogs. Although dogs can contract common coronaviruses, the specific novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is not believed to be a health threat to dogs, even though dogs can test positive for the virus.
As a dog owner you have the responsibility to do what you can to protect your dog’s health and safety. This means adhering to guidelines on social distancing, stay-home orders, and so forth. The chances of your dog contracting COVID-19 and becoming ill seems unlikely, but your dog may be able to harbor the virus internally or externally on its hair.
During the pandemic, dog owners must still take their dogs outside for exercise and a walk. The best course for doing so with the current pandemic is to follow a few practices that will help keep you and your dog safe while on a walk.
If you test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed, the CDC recommends limiting contact with your pets. That may be hard to do, but it is important to try and arrange for another member of your household to care for your dog while you are sick. If no one else in your household is available, contact a professional dog-walking or dog-sitting service to help you during that period.
Common Sense Dog Walking During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The science is showing that being outdoors is safer than confining yourself indoors. Nature is medicine, and sunlight is a disinfectant. However, it is still important to play it safe and assume that the virus can live on your dog for some period of time, even if short-lived.
Practice Social Distancing, Even with Other Dogs
Social distancing protects your dog from picking up the virus that may be on another dog’s coat. If you have a yard, you can confine your dog’s activity to the yard. Be aware that simply leaving your dog outside in the yard will not provide it with the exercise and stimulation it needs to stay healthy. Your dog needs play time and physical exercise.
Keep your dog on a leash when on a walk so you can control the distance between your dog and other humans and dogs. You need to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people and animals. If your dog is not on a leash, it will want to interact with humans and other dogs just like they always do – up close and personal.
Limit contact with your dog if you or your dog have been exposed to COVID-19 or you are showing symptoms. That means avoiding petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
Practicing social distancing also means avoiding dog parks when other dogs are there, pet shops, grooming salons, or other locations where dogs are likely to be in close quarters.
Wear a Mask on the Walk
Play it safe and wear a mask when you are out with your dog. The mask will help protect you if your dog gets away from you or you find it necessary to be in close contact with another animal or human during your walk.
Do not put a mask on your dog. As noted earlier, COVID-19 does not appear to be a threat to your dog’s health. Not only is a mask unnecessary for your dog, it can actually create a serious health risk. A mask will interfere with your dog’s breathing and ability to pant, thus impairing its ability to expel heat. It is especially risky for flatter-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers.
Carry Hand Sanitizer
Carry a handy-sized bottle of hand sanitizer during your walks. Use it after you touch any surface, including your dog’s coat.
Wash Your Hands and Your Dog’s Paws as Soon as You Get Home
Keeping your hands and your dog’s paws clean will help limit the spread of all germs, not just the coronavirus.
To keep the risks of contagion down, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after each walk. Before you come inside, make it a practice to wash your dog’s paws with a gentle product designed to use on dogs. Human soap is too harsh for your dog’s paws and skin. Make it easier on yourself and your dog by using dog-grooming wipes to wipe down your dog’s paws.
Contact the Dog Walking Professionals at Paw Pals for Assistance
Don’t let the pandemic compromise your dog’s mental and physical health. According to the CDC, “there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.” You need to keep up with regular walks to keep your dog mentally and physically fit during the pandemic. If you are unable to get outside with your dog for any reason, contact the dog walking professionals at Paw Pals for help.