During this stressful time, you might be wondering what kind of precautions you should be taking with your dogs. You’re certainly not alone; and up until recently, the news regarding coronavirus in dogs has been overwhelmingly positive. However, as of March 13, The World Health Organization (WHO) has abruptly changed their stance due to a case of a canine infection, which was reported in Hong Kong. So, as it would seem, the virus can infect pets after all. While this is concerning information, it is no cause for panic, and there are precautions you should take to ensure the safety of your dogs as well as your entire household.
So, can your dog get sick with COVID-19?
While the sudden shift in information has caused some confusion and alarm, WHO maintains that, while dogs can in fact contract the virus, there is no evidence that pets can spread the disease or that the disease can cause your dog to fall ill. That means that even if your dog does somehow contract the virus, it is unlikely for that virus to jump from a canine to a human host. However, it is important to note, WHO admits that further studies may bring new findings. This may not be the most comforting news to pet owners, but in a fast-changing environment, new information is crucial in keeping the virus contained.
The most important thing, as always, is to try to stay objective and refrain from giving into panic. Just as in people, simple preventative measures can be taken to ensure your dog’s health and to prevent them from tracking any unwanted viruses into your household:
- Wash your hands after handling or petting dogs: While this is a rule of basic hygiene, you should wash your hands after handling your dog and refrain from touching your own face before you do. This is especially important to stress to children who come in contact with your or any other dog.
- Disinfect your dog’s coat and paws before entering your home: Whilechances of your dog getting infected with the virus seem to be extremely low (there has only been a single case reported in any highly-affected area), that does not mean that a virus cannot exist on your dog’s coat and body and get tracked into your home. To prevent this from happening, use a product such as max-bone Antiseptic Wipes to wipe down your dog’s coat and paws after a walk before entering your home.
- Practice distancing if you or a family member get sick: What we know from the single case of coronavirus infection in a dog, is that it was exposed to the virus by its owners, who were sick. If you happen to fall ill, try to avoid coming in direct contact with your dog and have someone else in your household take over the care responsibilities. If this isn’t a viable choice, make sure to be extra thorough with your hygiene and try to wear a mask if possible when interacting with your dog. In some cases, it may become necessary to quarantine for your dog, either in your home or a hospital.
With the nature of this pandemic and the ever-changing stream of information, it is more important than ever to include your dogs and other pets in your preparedness planning. As always, practice the utmost care and hygiene when it comes to coming in contact with your dog. Wipe down your dog’s paws and coat with Antiseptic Wipes after each outing to prevent the intrusion of unwanted germs. Finally, if you suspect that you or any other member of your household may be sick, focus on distancing and take extra precaution when caring for your family, including your dog. For more information, visit the WHO website or contact your veterinarian for any unanswered questions.