Canines and Coronavirus: Six Care Tips
Canines and Coronavirus: Six Care Tips
The term “coronavirus” is on everyone’s mind these days. As the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains, there are many coronavirus strains. Some (like certain types of common cold) have been circulating for years. This newest or “novel” coronavirus, officially called “SARS-CoV-2,” produces an ailment known at “COVID-19.” It’s mainly thought to spread through close person-to-person contact — even, potentially, when an infected individual shows no symptoms. The CDC notes that the virus can also live for a time on surfaces. Touching those surfaces, then touching your face, could transfer disease-producing germs. This leaves a whole lot of pet lovers wondering about canines and coronavirus.
Many owners self-isolating at home are spending more time than ever with their furry friends. To our dogs, this probably feels like an awesome mini-vacation. But could you actually catch COVID-19 from your pup? According to the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), it’s pretty rare for coronaviruses to infect companion animals and then spread directly to people. In addition, non-porous surfaces like door handles or tables seem to trap and transmit these viruses better than pet fur. “At this time,” reads the AVMA information page as of this posting, “there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread to people from the skin or fur of pets.”
Phew— this is reassuring news. After all, our companion animals can provide an invaluable sense of support and solace right now. But if you’re trying to keep your home as safe as possible, it’s a great time to boost general cleanliness efforts. Given supply chain issues, it’s also smart to re-evaluate daily care routines. Here are some tips and observations:
Regular baths can lead to dry skin —and all that working/schooling from home is a real time-drain. So for now, consider wiping Fido’s fur and snout with a damp washrag periodically. Create a diluted cleansing solution by mixing a half-teaspoon of gentle shampoo in a basin of water (skin-friendly options include Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Natural Pet Shampoo, and Zymox Enzymatic Shampoo). Dunk your washrag in this solution, and wipe down your pooch from head-to-toe. Then rinse the rag with clear water, ring it out thoroughly, wipe down again, and towel-dry. Does your pet wear any type of garment regularly, like a coat or anxiety-reducing ThunderShirt? Wash it every so often, on the warmest setting possible. This will keep your furry friend smelling fabulous.
Paws and considerLet’s say your dog has just taken an outdoor potty break. Paw wiping is a great way to remove dirt and various surface contaminants that may otherwise get tracked inside. It’s true in any situation, but perhaps even more relevant now. The whole process only takes a minute. Just keep some eco-friendly Earthbath Grooming Wipes or a damp sponge near the door. You can also invest in a pair of dog booties, like Original All-Weather Muttluks.
Don’t overdo it
Remember, it’s never safe to try “disinfecting” any part of your dog. Formulations like rubbing alcohol or Lysol can seriously injure canine skin, and irritate those super-sensitive sniffers. If you’ve been petting your pup for an extended length of time, just wash your hands for at least 20 seconds per CDC guidelines.
Walk this waySo long as you yourself feel well, it’s great to get outside and enjoy some fresh air occasionally. But be careful to maintain a safe social distance from other pet owners while you’re taking Rover on a stroll. Likewise, remember that the novel coronavirus can often live on surfaces for several days. Those surfaces could potentially include poles, fire hydrants, shoe soles, mailboxes, and more. So once you come inside, wash your hands immediately. Also consider disinfecting the soles of your shoes, and leaving them outside to dry.
If your pet spends any amount of time outdoors, especially during warmer months, parasites are still a risk. You may be logging more time than usual on the sofa, but don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. Keep your canine current on flea, tick, and heartworm preventives. Almost due for a vaccine? Check with your vet for guidance on scheduling appointments.
Adjust your routine
Need pet food, or provisions? See if your vet offers curbside pickup or home delivery. But don’t forget that many manufacturers and suppliers are seeing a sharp increase in orders right now. Plan for delays, and order earlier than necessary. Want to brush up on behavioral commands from the comfort of your living room? Many trainers have begun transitioning to live-streaming classes. These preserve your personal safety —and cut down on commutes, too. Since driving distance isn’t a factor, check around for reputable resources. You might just discover a great trainer in another state!
With a few simple precautions, you can sensibly balance life with canines and coronavirus. So hang in there, stay safe, and don’t wait to order pet supplies. Got a friend who could use these tips? Don’t hesitate to share them. And if you’d like even more animal companion insights, subscribe to our Sparky Steps e-mail list!
Written by Marybeth Bittel