Many of you have questions on COVID-19 and dog safety during the coronavirus crisis. Austin Boxer Rescue has put together this list of frequently asked questions and safety tips to provide some guidance based on recommendations from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA), the American Veterinary Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other resources to help keep your dog safe.
Since the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 novel coronavirus is a global pandemic, many people have been worried not only about their own health but that of their dogs, as well as other pets.
Can Dogs Get the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The CDC has stated that coronavirus is spread to people through person-to-person contact. At this point there haven’t been any reports in the U.S. of pets or other animals becoming sick or spreading the coronavirus. The WHO has also confirmed that there is no evidence that dogs or cats in the U.S. have become ill with this particular virus.
What Is the Risk to Humans of Catching Coronavirus from Dogs?
According to the CDC, the first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person to person. At this point there have been no cases of dogs or other pets spreading the coronavirus disease to humans in the U.S.
Although the coronavirus can’t be transmitted to or from companion animals as far as we know, you should continue to follow basic hygiene practices with your pets. Wash your hands with soap and warm water thoroughly before and after direct contact with your pets, their food, or supplies, and wash their food and water bowls thoroughly on a daily basis just as you’d wash your own dinnerware, glasses, and flatware.
What Should I Do If I Test Positive for Coronavirus or Suspect I’m Sick?
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspect that you may have it, limit your contact with dogs and other pets if at all possible. While there haven’t been reports of dogs becoming sick with COVID-19 yet, we still have a lot to learn about the virus and how it spreads.
If you’re ill, have another member of your household care for your animals if you can. If you are your pet’s sole caretaker, make a plan with a family member or friend, or a nearby boarding facility, before you become too ill to take care of them in your home, or worst-case scenario, are admitted to a hospital. If you don’t have anyone else nearby who can help, wash your hands with warm soapy water as much as possible before and after you interact with your dog. Take extra care to wash all bedding – yours and theirs – on a frequent basis, too, along with any towels or cleaning materials you may use.
Another point to consider is updating your estate planning and will to be sure that your pets are cared for in the event of your death, or in the event that both you and your partner or spouse both become too ill to take care of your pets. Now is the opportune time to be sure that your beneficiaries are updated in your life insurance and retirement plans, and that you have named someone and provided for funds to take care of them should anything happen. While it’s a very tough subject to discuss and a difficult time for all of us to consider this, it may offer peace of mind to know that you’ve taken care of this if you do become ill or pass on. You may also wish to consider naming Austin Boxer Rescue as a beneficiary, as many of our volunteers and adoptive families have done over the years.
What Supplies Should I Stock Up on If I Have a Dog?
If you’re a Boxer owner or foster, or have other pets, we recommend you prepare a “go kit” with essential supplies in case of an emergency. Try to keep an extra supply of food on hand at all times – at least a 30-day supply if you can – as well as a 30-day supply of your pets’ medications and any other essential items you may need.
In some countries that have had extremely high numbers of cases of coronavirus, pet owners have been forced to evacuate entire buildings, so be prepared for what you might be required to do both mentally and physically in the event you’re in an apartment or high-density living situation.
Should I Take My Dog to the Vet if They Become Ill or Have Other Medical Needs?
If your dog becomes ill, contact your vet before taking them into the office to be sure that someone will be there. Most vets and emergency animal hospitals are still open, but some may be closed or operating with a limited staff. Most if not all will have someone meet you at your car or outside the office to leave your pet to reduce human contact.
If you have elective procedures or appointments that can be postponed, such as vaccinations, deworming, microchipping, routine screenings, heartworm tests, or other tests for otherwise healthy dogs, please talk to your vet about rescheduling to a later date to reduce office visits and interactions. Some cities have suspended free and low cost spay and neuter clinics as a result of coronavirus concerns and to conserve protective medical supplies and gear, too.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center remains open for calls from pet parents regarding pets who may have ingested toxic substances. Please be kind to your vet and understand that they are also operating under unusual and often difficult circumstances themselves, and that these are stressful times for everyone.
Should I Walk My Dog?
Now more than ever, getting physical and mental exercise is important for your well-being, especially as schedules have changed for most people and their families. Before you go for a walk, make sure the area is safe outside and that you won’t be in close contact – within 6’ to 10’ of any other pets or people. Check with your local neighborhood association or city regulations for hours on public parks as some may be closed or have reduced access. Observe any curfew rules that may be in effect, and don’t have contact with other people while you’re out walking unless they’re part of your immediate household.
You also should wash your hands thoroughly before and after each walk and consider carrying a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer. If you live in downtown Austin or other nearby cities, take your Boxer out at times when the streets, parks, or trails aren’t crowded.
What Else Can I Do to Protect My Dog?
At this point, the best place for you to be is home with your Boxer, together, and to strictly limit any contact with people outside your immediate household unless it’s absolutely necessary. Many of our local pet supply stores like Tomlinson’s are offering free delivery on dog food and other items you may need, or you may wish to order them online.
Once you get supplies, leave the items on your porch, as long as the items not at risk of being eaten or damaged by wildlife or stolen, or in your garage for three days to allow time for any pathogens to die or weaken. Once you bring them inside, wipe them down with a sanitizing wipe or solution or spray with Lysol as long as it won’t penetrate the packaging and harm food items. You also should consider removing bagged food from the original packaging and placing it into a clean container.
You may need help with your pet should you become ill. Talk to your friends to find out who would be willing to be an emergency caregiver. Once you have identified someone, be sure to email a list of everything they should know about your pet and keep a printed copy in a prominent place in your home., Be sure to include information about daily walk and feeding habits, food preferences, medical conditions, medications, vet contact details, and any behavioral tendencies.
Is Austin Boxer Rescue Still Accepting Adopters and Fosters?
Yes! We recently placed most of our dogs with fosters and are expecting another influx very soon. Please be patient with us as we are scrambling to keep up.