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Coronavirus and Dogs: What You Need to Know

March 16, 2020

At Embark, we take canine health very seriously. Below, please find advice for caring for your dog during the Coronavirus crisis. As this illness is still relatively new, recommended procedures can change quickly as we learn more. Please refer to the CDC website for the most up to date information. 

Is my dog at risk for catching Coronavirus? 

The World Health Organization reports that “there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.” There has been a case of a Pomeranian in Hong Kong testing for a weak positive. It is owned by a person who contracted the virus. The 17-year-old Pomeranian passed away after being returned home to its owner following a government quarantine and a negative test for the virus. There have been no cases of dogs actually exhibiting symptoms or people becoming infected by an infected dog, however. 

Can my dog spread Coronavirus to humans?

If you’re infected, you might be able to transfer the virus to your dog’s fur. Other people may be exposed to the virus if they pet a dog that’s been touched by someone affected by the virus. However, this is not a common way for the virus to spread. To err on the side of caution, you should wash your hands thoroughly before and after petting any dogs. Do not pet dogs you do not know.

Should I stock up on dog food and medicine for my dog?

In case you have to quarantine yourself, you should prepare by buying anywhere from two weeks to a month’s supply of extra dog food and stocking up on any medicine your dog needs for the same amount of time. Call your veterinarian to discuss if a physical exam or blood work is required before a medication can be refilled.  Even if you don’t have to go into quarantine, supply may be limited due to other pet owners preparing for the possibility of quarantine.

Is it safe to go to the vet office? 

According to the Center for Disease Control, you should avoid making unnecessary trips to areas that are frequented by many people. Contact your veterinarian about rescheduling wellness examinations, elective surgeries, and dentistry procedures. Your veterinarian may also contact you to reschedule a procedure because they are being asked to conserve personal protective equipment used in surgeries.

What if my dog has an accident or gets sick?

If your dog has a serious illness or injury, take them to the vet. Take the same precautions you would in other scenarios: avoid direct contact with other people, avoid touching surfaces, and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Many emergency veterinary hospitals are now asking for owners to wait in their cars instead of in crowded waiting rooms so be prepared to stay in your vehicle. Telemedicine services are available for minor illnesses in some veterinary clinics, but only if your veterinarian has seen your dog in person in the past year.

What if I’m sick and my dog needs to go to the vet?

If you’ve been sick and need to take your dog to the vet in an emergency, call ahead and let them know you are coming so they can prepare to help your dog while taking precautions for coming into contact with you.

Does Coronavirus affect my dog’s walk routine?

It’s safe to take your dog out for walks, but you should avoid letting other people stop and pet your dog (or doing the same with other people’s dogs). Many dog parks are closing temporarily to help prevent the virus from spreading, so use your best judgment.

Is it okay to pet my dog?

Your dog probably brings you a lot of joy, especially now when you are minimizing other social interactions. If you and your family are following the guidelines of the CDC, and you are not sick nor have you been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to the virus, you should continue to enjoy the company of your dog.

Can I keep my dog walker?

Based on the CDC guidelines, we recommend limiting contact with other people coming into your house which may mean canceling your dog walks. If this is not an option, we suggest that you ask them to follow the CDC guidelines and to sanitize their hands before they take your dog out. 

You could also reach out to a friend or neighbor who you trust to look after your dog if you can’t be home with them. If there’s someone you know who’s available, symptom-free, and takes the proper hygiene precautions, they could be a great help in taking care of your dog during this time.

Is doggie daycare safe?

We suggest that you minimize risk by taking care of your dog on your own and in your own home. A doggie daycare may be safer than hiring a walker if you can drive yourself there and limit interactions there. However, you need to choose how to best manage care to fit your current work needs.

What if I catch the virus and have to quarantine myself?

See if someone you know would be willing to board your dog during your quarantine as some places allow you to keep your pets with you while others do not. Check your local government site for their specific requirements for quarantine. We suggest coming up with a care plan for your pets proactively—reach out to family members and friends to see in advance who might be able to board your pet in the worst-case scenario. 

If you are quarantined, you should limit contact with your pets. Stock up on food and meds for your dog and limit contact for both you and your pets with others.

What other precautions should I take against Coronavirus with my dog? 

  • Follow all the CDC guidelines for yourself, because you are much more likely to bring COVID-19 into your home than your pet is.
  • Do not abandon your dog because of COVID-19 concerns. 
  • Avoid high-traffic areas like dog parks where social distancing is not possible. 
  • Using paw wipes after they come in from outside is a good idea to halt the spread of germs.

 

To find out more about how Embark is responding to Coronavirus to protect our employees and customers, visit our COVID-19 hub.