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COVID-19 & Your Dog

by Jim Stephens, Chair IKC Health & Welfare Committee

COVID-19 & Your Dog

The IKC wishes to keep its members  and the general dog owning public up to date with how the current current Corona virus pandemic may affect your dog .

The positive  physical and mental health impact of owning a dog is well known. The release of endorphins and oxytocin as a result of petting or just looking at your dog  has been researched over the years and the health benefits of pet ownership cannot be overestimated. As social distancing and self isolation become the accepted norm, the role of our dogs and other pets will become more important especially for the elderly  or those on their own. Caring for an animal can add purpose to people feeling overwhelmed by anxiety. Physical exercise such as walking the dog can in itself help many.

Can your dog become ill from or transmit Covid 19 ?

No

There is no evidence that pets can become sick from COVID-19. Infectious disease experts, as well as the Centre for Disease Control, and World Health Organsation indicate there is no evidence to suggest that pet dogs or cats can be a source of infection, including spreading COVID-19 to people. There has been one case of a pet dog showing a weak positive for Covid 19 but this was determined to be an environmental contamination probably from sniffing around the home of its infected owner.

When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.

When possible, people who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their pets and have another member of their household care for their animals. If they must look after their pet, they should maintain good hygiene practices and wear a face mask if possible.

(World Organisation for Animal  Health)

Can I exercise my dog in Public ?

There are no extra  restrictions on exercising your dog but it would be sensible to maintain a safe distance from other walkers in line with HSE recommendations ie maintaining a distance of 2 metres from other people.

In other jurisdictions, such as Spain, despite the lockdown, one individual per household is allowed out with their dog to exercise it.

If you are using dog parks  to exercise off lead then remember to clean your hands with sanitizer or soap and water to avoid contamination from commonly touched surfaces such as gate openings and latches.

Check with friends or neighbours  with dogs who may be finding it difficult at the moment to exercise  their pet and see if they need assistance.

What if my dog gets ill?

Most veterinary practices are using an appointment system  to avoid crowded waiting rooms. Phone ahead for an appointment and if necessary  be prepared to wait outside the surgery to be called.

For repeat prescriptions and medications again contact the surgery so that a collection time can be organised.

Working from home and your dog.

If you are working from home for the foreseeable future it is important to maintain an approximation of  your normal business day. Try not to have the dog with you all the time, it is important that there are times when it is in another room away from where you are working .

This will help prevent the development of separation related problems in the future when you go back to work. If your dog is used to having constant access to you during the time when you are working from home then the “shock” of the access being withdrawn when you return to work is all the greater. Far better to keep a structured routine or introduce a play time signal (any novel object or clothing which appears when play starts and is removed when play stops) so the dog knows when you are going to interact with it. Use your “coffee break” to leave the “desk” and then go into the dog and play for a few minutes before returning to work.

Try not to overindulge your dog with extra treats just because you are home. If you want to treat your dog  give it ordinary dog food such as kibble from its normal daily ration rather than anything “extra”.

Food 

There is no shortage of dog food but  you may not want to visit crowded shops. Many pet foods can be ordered and delivered online from many companies.

Don’t wait until the food bag is almost empty in case your favoured food can’t be bought. Leave a few days worth to mix with the new food (1/4 new with ¾ old for two days, ½ and ½ for two days then ¾ new and 1/4 old for two days) to avoid possible stomach upsets associated with the change.

We will endeavour to keep you up to date with any changes during this pandemic and  to take this opportunity to remind you of the benefits that accrue to us all from Man’s best friend.

 

Pet Care Education Hub