As more people are ordered to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve embraced one bright spot in the crisis. They’re getting to spend a lot of extra quality time with their pups. But what do you do if your pet needs to go the vet during the lockdown? Here’s some good advice from experts in the field.
Can My Dog Get the Coronavirus?
As if worrying about family and friends isn’t stressful enough, many people are anxious about their dog’s health, too. Pet parents are questioning how to care for their four-legged family members, especially when it comes to social distancing and hygiene concerns.
The good news is that there have only been a handful of reported cases of COVID-19 in dogs worldwide, and only one in the US. Infectious disease experts and animal health organizations believe at this time there’s no indication pets spread the virus to other animals or humans.
If you get ill yourself, experts suggest you limit or forego interaction with your dog until more information is known. If possible, another person should handle walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you must interact with him, be sure to wear a mask, avoid physical contact like hugs and kisses (yes, that will be tough for you and your pet!), and wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after any contact.
Vet Visits During Covid-19
Veterinarians everywhere are asking people to only bring their pets in for urgent needs at this time. If you must visit, here’s what to do:
- Inform the vet’s office ahead of time if you or a family member are ill with the virus.
- Ask your vet if they are using a drop-off policy for appointments and emergency care. Most clinics have initiated phone or email intake and then have people drop their dog off curbside at the entrance.
- If you do enter a veterinarian’s office or building lobby with your pet, be sure to follow social distancing guidelines and stay six feet away from other people.
If your dog develops a cough, keep in mind there are over 10 distinct viruses and bacteria that can cause this condition and it’s doubtful it is the human version, COVID-19. Your dog’s respiratory issue is much more likely to be caused by a dog-specific virus or bacteria. There’s even a coronavirus that only affects canines. These animal viruses do not travel to and infect humans. If you’re unsure whether his symptoms require a visit to the vet, call first before taking him in.
Keeping You and Your Dog Healthy
Local animal clinics across the country say they’re prepared to help anxious pet parents and their pups during this stressful time. What can you do in the meantime to maintain your dog’s health? One of the best ways to care for your pet is by taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically. That way you’ll be better prepared to provide your pooch with a safe, secure environment while minimizing spread of the disease.
When and if possible, continue to take your dog for walks and engage in some more vigorous exercise in the yard. Finally, be sure to keep yourself informed and follow guidelines set out by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and your local health department. It's the best way to ensure both you and your pet stay as healthy as possible.