At the moment, everything is extremely unsettled across the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. Since March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus strain COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic – meaning the virus has affected the whole world, not just one area or a few countries.
With many of us unsure of what is going on, it can leave us all feeling vulnerable, uncertain and scared. All we do know is that Covid-19 is spreading fast and we all need to take practical action to try and protect the vulnerable and elderly – which can include self-isolation and quarantine.
Across the UK, and the rest of the world, things are ramping up to try and stop this virus spreading. Currently, we have all been advised to limit any ‘non-essential’ contact with people, avoiding large social areas; pubs, theatres, cinemas, festivals and parks.
So, with this in mind, it begs us all the ask; can we still walk our dogs?
Well, it all depends on your individual situation. If you’ve not been told to self-isolate (haven’t been in contact with someone who is infected) and you do not have any of the symptoms, you should be fine to take your pup for a nice, long walk – as long as you’re not stopping to talk to lots of people or heading into a huge crowd. Taking your dog for a walk in the fresh air will only do you both the world of good during these uncertain times.
However, if you have tested positive for the virus, things are a little different. Once you know you have contracted the Covid-19 virus, your pet’s life will be impacted, too.
Anyone who has a positive test result or is showing symptoms of the virus; a high temperature of over 100, a consistent dry cough or breathing difficulties, must self-isolate – this includes any family members living with someone showing symptoms or a positive test result. So, unfortunately, once you or your family begin self-isolated due to a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19, you should not leave your home or venture into public.
This will, of course, mean that you will not be able to take your dog for a walk, as you could spread the illness onto others, who are more vulnerable if you’re not careful.
So, what can you do to help your pup? After all, they will still need exercise and fresh air! Our advice is to try and arrange an alternative;
There are many people that are social distancing instead of self-isolating. With this in mind, dog walkers are most likely still available to take your pup for a walk into an open space.
The idea of parting with your pup may be quite stressful and upsetting, especially if you live on your own, but it might be the best option for your dog. Giving them to a friend or another family member while you’re self-isolating could be the best option. Then, once you or your loved one has recovered from the illness, your pup can return and life will continue as normal.
With very little evidence that our pets can contract the illness from an infected human, you should still limit interact with your pet. Current advice from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), you will need to try and restrict contact with your dog and other pets in your household while you’re fighting the Covid-19 illness – just as you would with other humans.
If you are the one that has been diagnosed with Covid-19, but you live with other people or family members who have not contracted the illness, then they may be able to care for the animal while you’re sick.
Implementing good hygiene practices before and after you play or interact with your pet will be extremely important during your period of isolation after anyone in the household has a positive test result – just to be on the safe side.
You should wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap before and after;
Sticking to these practices could help both your loved ones and your pet from the virus. This is also good advice to practice even once the Covid-19 virus has passed. Keeping a good hygiene routine can protect both your pup’s health and your own during everyday life.
As there is still so much uncertainty, it is beneficial for yours and your dog’s health to try and keep things as clean as possible – especially if you live with other people who could contract the virus too.
Going for a walk isn’t the only way to get your pup active and healthy. There are lots of other things you can do with your furry friend to keep them entertained and happy;
During self-isolation, you will have plenty of time on your hands – so why not take advantage and teach your pooch a few new tricks. This mental stimulation will not only help them but can also solidify your bond with each other – a win, win! So, get out their favourite treats and teach them a few new tricks or commands.
Most dogs LOVE to play. Whether it is with your slippers or their own favourite teddy, lots of dogs will enjoy a few games of fetch, hide and seek or tug-o-war. Make sure you set aside time to play with your pup – they will thank you for it.
Now, these types of games can keep your pup busy for hours – stimulating their minds and natural instincts. Hide some treats around the house or in the garden (if you have one) and send them off. This is a great way to keep them active, happy and content during these uneasy times.
A lot of things are up in the air, with many of us feeling scared, confused and alone. As a puppy parent, it can all be a little bit daunting with such limited advice on how to look after our fur babies during this outbreak.
All we can say is keep to good hygiene practices and know when to limit your interactions with your dog. If you test positive, treat your pup as you would others around you – it’s as simple as that. Be smart and look out for each other. We are all in this together and we will get through it.