With Coronavirus spread across the globe, life is seemingly changing by the minute for all of us. While many of us are anxious and worried, dog owners are comfortable. That is, knowing there is no evidence our pets can spread COVID-19 or become infected. That fact comes from the World Health Organization.

Just because our pets are spared from COVID-19 doesn’t mean life isn’t changing for pet owners. Dog owners should remember some things until coronavirus is no longer a threat. 

What if I have been exposed to COVID-19 and have a dog? 

First, know that it’s doubtful your dog will become sick, but as a precaution, limit your exposure to your pets. If possible, let another family member care for your dog. If that’s not an option, limit your interaction with your dog. And, always wash your hands before and after touching and feeding your dog. 

Veterinarian Visits:

  • Call your veterinarian and let them know your situation if your dog has a vet appointment. That’s mainly for routine services, such as a checkup, nail trim, or dental work. Your vet may reschedule your appointment if it’s not a medical necessity.
  • If you have an emergency with your dog, contact your nearest emergency veterinarian. Let them know you may or do have COVID-19. Your dog needs emergency care, and follow their guidelines. 
  • If you need dog food or medicine while you are ill, ask a family member to pick it up. Or request a home delivery from your veterinarian. 
  • If you take your dog to a large veterinarian chain like Banfield or VCA Animal Hospitals, you can use their chat services to answer non-emergency questions. 
  • If you have non-emergency medical questions about your dog on weekends or after hours, consider using one of the many telemedicine services. Here is a shortlist of online veterinarian services: 
  • Active4Pets
  • PetDesk
  • Petzam
  • Televet
  • WhiskerDocs

Grooming Appointments / Doggy Daycare / Training / Dog Walkers

  • Contact your service provider and let them know you may have or have COVID-19. And you will have to reschedule your appointments/sessions with them. Do not let an in-home groomer, trainer, or dog walker into your home if you may have or do have COVID-19.  

What if I haven’t been exposed to COVID-19 and have a dog? 

Even if you haven’t been exposed to coronavirus, practice social distancing and handwashing. Especially when meeting with veterinarians, groomers, trainers, and dog walkers. No hugs, high-fives, or handshakes for now. 

Veterinarian Visits:

  • If your dog has a vet appointment for routine services, such as a checkup, nail trim, or dental work, call your vet and ask if they have implemented certain policies due to the threat of coronavirus. 
  • Do not bring anyone else to the vet appointment unless necessary.  
  • Keep a distance between you and other guests in the waiting room. Do not be offended if your vet asks you to wait in your car until the exam room is ready for your dog.
  • If you only need to pick up food or medicine, this would be a perfect time to switch to home delivery options.   

Grooming Appointments / Doggy Daycare / Training / Dog Walkers

  • Contact your service provider ahead of your next appointment as they may have new policies to keep everyone safe. Groomers and trainers may be temporarily suspending in-home sessions during the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Some daycares and grooming facilities may offer curbside pickup, and some may prefer your dog to be dropped off without a collar and leash so the facility can use their own. 
  • Always be sure to wash your hands before your visit and immediately after. 

Can people become infected with COVID-19 from dogs?

  • This from the World Organisation for Animal Health: The current spread of COVID-19 results from human to human transmission. There is no evidence that companion animals, including dogs and cats, can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification for taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.

Can dogs become infected with COVID-19?

  • There is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick. 
  • One dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19 but did not show any clinical signs of the disease. That dog was also exposed to owners that were sick with COVID-19. 

Should I get my pet tested for COVID-19? 

  • Not at this time. There is no indication that healthy and unexposed dogs should be tested for the virus. 

Should I do anything to protect my dog or cat from Coronavirus? 

  • There have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with COVID-19, and currently, there is no evidence that they play a significant epidemiological role in this human disease.
  • As a rule, when handling and caring for your dog, basic hygiene should always be practiced, including handwashing before and after being around or taking your dog, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking, or sharing food.

What if my dog is not feeling well or is showing signs of flu-like illness?

  • If your dog exhibits any signs of illness, such as coughing, sneezing, or lethargy, call your veterinarian immediately, and keep your dog indoors to prevent further spread. So far, dogs have not become infected with COVID-19.  
  • Signs of illness in dogs and cats are more likely to be associated with common viral and bacterial infections such as kennel cough, canine flu, etc., that are neither coronaviruses nor transmissible to people. 

Coronavirus has changed our way of life for the time being. This will pass. In the meantime, your dog can be a dog. It’s safe to walk your dog, let him play in the backyard, and take him for car rides. Just keep a safe distance from the other people you encounter along the way. 

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