A lot of people have been asking if dogs can be affected by the COVID-19 virus and while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advice that our pets cannot catch the human corona virus, it’s inevitable that we will worry about how the current crisis may affect our best friend.
Routine Veterinary Visits
Many veterinarians are suspending their routine care temporarily to reduce contact with people, protect their clinic staff, and preserve medicines that could be used in the fight against COVID-19. Most clinics are still open to treat serious illness and accidents in animals, but elective procedures such as dental cleaning, spaying, castration, and routine vaccinations may not be available until the crisis is over and self-isolation and lock downs are lifted. Keeping your dog healthy during this time is important so providing exercise, mental stimulation and proper nutrition is essential. And take extra care to predict those avoidable problems that may lead to a trip to the veterinary clinic, such as:
- Keep teeth and gums clean.
- Avoid internal and external parasites.
- Stop your dog chasing bees and wasps or snakes, even a non-venomous snake bite can cause pain and infection.
- Don’t give them bones to chew unless they are hard beef leg bones that won’t splinter.
- Don’t let them eat anything they pass on their walk. In some areas of the world where stray dogs are common, poisoned meat bait may be used to cull the strays. It’s an awful practice and one reason why it’s so important when training a puppy basic commands, LEAVE IT is one of the fundamental five. Dogs will also often eat the feces from other animals, it’s a habit picked up from puppies watching their mother clean them which often continues into adulthood especially if their food is nutritionally lacking in some way. Dogs are attracted by the smell and may find it hard to resist some ‘tasty’ sheep poo or even cow manure, but if it can make them feel sick or even vomit.
- Walk your dog on hard surfaces to keep his nails trim.
- Ask your veterinarian to recommend the contents for a small first aid kit you can keep in your house, then if your dog becomes ill you can phone and they may be able to guide you to some basic first line treatment you can do at home.
Adjust Your Dogs Diet
While you are locked inside, you will not be able to exercise your dog as much as normal. To prevent your dog eating too many calories and putting on weight, its important to reduce the amount of food you give by approximately 10%. Excess weight is not the only problem you may face. Without the mental and physical stimulation that he normally receives from his daily walks, he may become bored, temperamental and destructive. To help prevent this, you need to give a moderate protein diet that will prevent him becoming adrenally-stimulated (it’s the same principle as with ADHD in children).
Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Even if you are stuck indoors without a garden, there are plenty of ways you can give your dog exercise. Take a look at my other article on lock down games to get some ideas. Also, use the opportunity to check out any of my training articles to polish your dog’s basic skills and teach a few advanced commands.
Can My Dog Be a Carrier of COVID-19?
I already mentioned at the start of this article, the CDC advice that our pets cannot catch COVID-19 virus from us, but while you sigh with relief, I must warn you that if a person with the virus is in close contact with your dog, the virus may survive on the surface of the dog’s fur for some time. Therefore, veterinarians are advising that you use the same social distancing rules for your dog as you are for yourself, bathe your dog if you take him outside the safety of your home and keep him away from any infected members of your household.
This is a worrying time for everyone and if you are on lock down alone in your home, it may be a very isolating one too. But think of this as a chance to have some quality time with your family and your dog. Lots of games, cuddles, bonding and a chance to reevaluate the important things in life. Keep well everyone, stay safe and take comfort in the joy your dog now feels with you by his side 24/7.