Coronavirus and our dogs
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
So far, there has only been one dog that had a weak positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19), and this is likely due to what it had eaten or the environment it was living in rather than the dog itself. Until further tests are carried out, there is no real evidence that animals can be carriers of or infected with the new virus. Remember, it is likely that the only reason dogs are at risk at all is that they live with us, humans are the transmitters! The world health organisation claims that there is no evidence that companion animals, such as cats or dogs can be infected with Coronavirus.
Covid-19 primarily transmits through droplets of coughing, sneezing, saliva or discharge from the nose. We really know very little about the virus, so common sense and cleanliness really are your best friends.
General hygiene should be followed as you were always taught. You should always wash your hands well after stroking or loving your dog anyway as dogs walk barefoot, wash their feet with their tongue, then wash their body, it is common sense! If you are self-isolating, or have been found to have the virus, ensure you wear a facemask when near your dog and wash your hand thoroughly before you touch them so you are not transferring the virus to their fur. If there are people who are not infected in the house, they should be caring for the dog and those self isolating should leave it alone to ensure the virus is not passed from one person to the other through the dogs fur.
Ensure you wash your dog with their usual dog shampoo, but ensure the water is not too hot and do not let bleach, hand sanitiser, disinfectant, or suchlike come into contact with your dog, their fur, their feet or anything they inhale or swallow. Any leads, harnesses, collars, coats, beds, toys and bowls should be frequently washed as usual and disinfected with a dog friendly disinfectant. Wash all floors and surfaces with a dog friendly disinfectant. This should already be done on a regular basis, just do it more to be safe, your germs will get everywhere!
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses belongs to a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. The new strain is Covid-19, however the exact source of the strain is still being studied. It is not sure where it has come from and there is currently no known cure. Antibiotics do not work against Virsuses.
This virus can cause pneumonia, coughing, fever and difficulty with breathing and, in extreme cases, death. Currently from the people who have died from Coronavirus on 1% have been under 50 years of age and only 1% had no reported health issues previously.
Can my dog go outside if I am self-isolating?
Dogs can go outside if you are self-isolation, however, it is recommended that you have another member of the family or a dog walker take them out on walks. I would advise the person who is walking your dog to bring their own lead so they do not have direct contact with something you may have coughed on. When they arrive, stay away from them, stay in another room just to be safe while you are self-isolating. If they do not have access to your house, get them a key, but ensure that you put it in boiling water for a few minutes if no disinfection to kill any virus that may be on it, then wash your hands thoroughly and leave it somewhere safe so they can collect it easily.
If you have no one to walk your dog, ensure they get out for frequent toilet breaks. If you do not have a private garden, ensure you take them out very late and very early so that you do not come into contact with other people and entertain them indoors with games and catch up on their training.
If you become really sick, it is advisable to have someone else care for you pets until you are recovered.
Is it safe to let my dog walker take my dog out in groups?
As mentioned above, if you are self-isolating, ensure you do not come into contact with your dog walker and ensure the key for your house is clean. If you can leave them some hand sanitiser and antibacterial spray for the lead, this would really help to keep the risk down of your dog walker contacting the virus from you.
Dogs have a much lesser risk of having the virus, if any at all, so they do not need to stop going out in groups, even if you are self-isolating, but sensible precautions should be taken.
I am a dog walker, how can I avoid getting the virus while collecting the dog if the owner is self- isolating?
If you are a dog walker, carry with you a lead, antibacterial wipes, tissues and hand sanitiser. Use the wipes to open the door of the dogs house, this will stop you touching an affected area, and help to clean off any virus that may be lurking there too. If you do not have the key in your possession and need to collect them, wipe the key with the wipes before you touch it and ensure to put the wipes immediately in a bin. When you enter the house, if there is a sink available, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, then get your own tissue out to dry your hands and turn off the tap using the tissue you have just dried with and put it straight in the bin. Do not touch your face with your hands until you have cleaned them. Ensure the self-isolating person is not near when you are get the dog attached to your own lead and leave quickly. If the dog has a coat or harness, ask the owner to leave out an antibacterial spray so you can spray the item before you put it on the dog, they are best left to dry, however, this is not always possible if you are the dog walker. Do not take any poo bags, treats, balls or toys from the house as they may be holding the virus. Use an antibacterial wipe to hold the handle as you exit. Once you are out of the isolation area, put the antibacterial wipe in the bin and use the hand sanitiser on your hands. If you travel by car, carry your own antibacterial spray and frequently spray your car and wipe your steering wheel, mirror, door handles and handbrake with an antibacterial wipe. Remember, overkill never hurts!