Since we first heard about coronavirus, I have wondered whether dogs could transmit coronavirus to other humans. To answer my questions, I reached out to a professor of mine from my days at Michigan State University. While obtaining my MS in Fisheries and Wildlife, I worked closely with Dr. Graham Hickling, a Disease Ecologist. He is a research scientist that studies zoonotic diseases, or those diseases that can spread to humans from animals.
From his current home in New Zealand, Dr. Hickling kindly created this video to share with our Homeward Bound clients. Below is a transcript of the video highlighting the major points in the role dogs play in transmitting the coronavirus.https://player.vimeo.com/video/406804123?app_id=122963&wmode=opaqueSome recommendations for staying safe with your dog during coronavirus lockdown.
Dogs and Coronavirus
The first point I wanted to make is that you don’t need to be concerned about your dog getting sick with COVID-19, which is the name we give the disease caused by the virus.
The concern that we do need to talk about is that your dog could play a role in transmitting the virus from one person to another. If somebody that is infected coughs or sneezes on your dog or touches your dog with contaminated hands or your dog sniffs some bit of trash that’s contaminated than she may be carrying the virus and can bring it back and potentially infect you.
So that’s the risk we have to deal with and I have several recommendations for you based on the way we do things here in New Zealand. In New Zealand, during lockdown, we have the idea that we’re all inside our own bubbles. The bubble is the people that you can interact with day to day. It’s your family or perhaps your roommates, and the important point is it’s also your pets, in particular, your dog. It’s fine to play with your dog and to take your dog for walks, if you keep her inside your bubble. The important thing is to not let her cross to somebody else’s bubble.
Dos and Don’ts to keep your dog from transmitting coronavirus
Do take your dog for nice long walks
It’s going to be good for your mental health and she’s going to love it.
Do have your dog on a leash
Have your dog on a leash whenever there is the slightest possibility that she could meet another person or that she could run over and interact with another dog because the thing that I’ve got to tell you is that if either of those things happen (she interacts with a dog or interacts with a person) then you really have to treat her as though she could be contaminated with the virus. At that point, you need to take her home and give her a really good bath in soapy water.
Don’t got to the dog park
Because we don’t want our dogs running up and contacting other dogs that means dog parks are off limits at present. We don’t want our dogs off the leash and coming in contact with each other and with other people.
Do keep the leash short and do give ample space for passing
Now, if you are walking your dog on a leash just make sure that whenever you are passing other people, particularly other people with dogs, you keep that leash short and you give enough space as you go past that there’s no possibility that the two dogs stretching out to the end of their leashes could meet each other. Give lots of passing space. If you are on a narrow pathway, perhaps through the woods and you see somebody coming maybe that’s a point where you actually stop and step aside and make plenty of room for them to get past.
Do have a plan when you see other off leash dogs
If you see people ahead that have a dog not on a leash you need to quickly come up with a plan. Maybe you can walk to the other side of the road. Maybe you need to turn around and go in a different direction altogether. You have to anticipate that the other dog may not be well controlled and when she sees your dog may come bounding over.
Don’t let people touch your dog
Please don’t let people bend down and pet your dog because that’s breaking the bubble. If somebody starts to do that, you need to tell them firmly, “Please do not touch my dog.”
Don’t let your dog sniff trash
When you are out walking with your dog, try not to let her sniff any trash that people have left lying around, particularly paper tissues but also drink bottles, cans, and fast food containers, anything that someone may have touched with contaminated hands.
Do avoid touching high touch surface areas
For both you and your dog, try to avoid touching anything that other people might have touched, like handrails, gates, fence posts, and that kind of thing.
Do wash your hands immediately upon returning home
The final bit of advice, of course, is that when you get home, make sure you wash your hands really thoroughly for at least 20 seconds in nice soapy water
I hope these suggestions have been useful. Dogs are a great companion to have around during lockdown. We just have make sure we keep them safe and we help them keep us safe inside the bubble.
COVID-19APRIL 13, 2020