Caring for your dog during the coronavirus pandemic:
To protect the most vulnerable in our community it’s vital that we all work together to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Reducing social contact goes against our nature, but for dog owners, self-isolation creates an extra set of problems. The Kennel Club has issued this advice to dog owners.
- You can walk your dog as much as you want, so long as you are not quarantined due to coronavirus symptoms in your household. You may leave the house as many times as you wish for exercise with your dog, however, if you are in Scotland or Wales, you should stay local.
- Be prepared: ensure that you have dog food, poo bags and medicines for your dog to see them through a possible two-week quarantine period.
- If you do go into quarantine, you should not leave your house. You can exercise your dog in your garden or around your home, but if you are unable to do this then you can ask someone to walk your dog for you, but you do need to take certain precautions.
Wash your hands
Currently there is no evidence that dogs are affected by COVID-19, or that they can transmit the virus to other humans. As with any surface, if someone with COVID-19 touches, sneezes or coughs on a dog, the virus could temporarily contaminate them. Although we don’t know how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, scientists think that it could range from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surface, how warm it is and levels of humidity.
During this time you should maintain good hygiene practices. Bath your dog often and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and hot water before and after you:
- Feed them
- Touch them
- Touch their toys
- Touch their bedding.
Walking your dog
If you are not quarantined then you can still take your dog for a walk. The government currently advises that there is no limit on the amount that people can exercise. We have provided some hints and tip at the bottom of this article to help keep your dog stimulated when not outside.
When walking your dog you should practice social distancing by avoiding busy areas and keeping at least two meters away from others.
Asking others to walk your dog
The government measures set out state that you can ask a friend or relative to take your dog out for you if you are self-isolating, vulnerable or elderly, but let them know in advance if you are self-isolating and follow government guidelines and social distancing measures and social distancing measures when handing over your dog. Always wash your hands before and after handling your dog and ask whoever walks your dog to do so as well.
Visiting the vet
Government advice is to stay at home and avoid others unless absolutely necessary. Unless your dog requires urgent treatment, you should avoid visiting the vets. If your dog needs urgent veterinary care during this time, call your local veterinary practice and ask them for advice. All vets will only be providing limited services and may be retaining some stocks that may be useful for human health. Your vet will be able to advise on what services they can offer.
If there is an emergency and you are quarantined because you or a member of your family has shown signs of coronavirus, it is vital that you phone your vet for advice. Do not visit the surgery in person as you could infect other people.
If your dog is on a repeat medication and you are unable to visit the vets, call them for advice. If you are quarantined due to illness then certain prescriptions may be posted or delivered to you, or you may be able to arrange for someone else to pick them up for you.
Stroking other people’s dogs
We’re all trying to avoid getting too close to other people and it’s best to avoid stroking other people’s dogs too. If you do pet a stranger’s dog, remember to clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand gel afterwards, or wash your hands with soap and warm water.
One of the most common reasons that dogs are taken to the vets with poisoning is because they have eaten paracetamol or ibuprofen. These are medicines that are found in most homes and so are commonly found by dogs. Since people are concerned about the effects of coronavirus, these medicines are around dogs more frequently than ever before and so dogs are at increased risk. Ensure that any medications are kept out of reach of your dog. If you are unwell and need to take any tablets make sure that you or someone else puts them away in a cupboard that is inaccessible to your dog.
Never put alcohol-based hand wash or disinfectants on your dog, as this could irritate their skin or may be poisonous if it’s licked.