3 questions dog owners are asking during virus pandemic
Special to the Tribune
Here are three popular questions dog owners may be asking during the coronavirus pandemic.
Can pets get or spread COVID-19?
The short answer is no.
There have been reports that two dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium were infected with COVID-19. However, infectious disease experts and animal health organizations agree there’s no evidence dogs spread the virus to people.
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Experts believe the pets might have tested positive due to “environmental contamination” of their snouts. The germs could have been living on the animal’s nose or mouth, just like they can live on other surfaces like a doorknob or a countertop.
The American Veterinary Medical Association concluded that “there is no conclusive evidence that dogs, cats or other domestic animals” can be infected with the virus or can transmit the virus under normal circumstances. The organization recommends that pet owners without symptoms wash hands before and after handling food, waste or supplies for their pets. Owners who have COVID-19 should restrict contact with pets, just like they would with people “out of an abundance of caution.” They can live on other surfaces like a doorknob or a countertop.
Is Covid-19 creating stress on my dogs?
Short answer: It could be.
Stress is part of life, whether in humans or dogs. In fact, stress is more common in dogs than you may think. Dogs are known to exhibit a whole range of emotions that we don’t usually associate with animals, and they express these emotions through verbal and physical means.
Your dog or cat didn’t sign up to be a therapy pet, but they are likely helping get through this isolation period. You might think all that extra cuddling and petting is a great thing for them, but our pets definitely pick up on our emotions. When we’re stressed, they can get stressed too.
Their routines may have changed such as not going to doggie daycare or being boarded, and they might act out behaviorally such as counter surfing, getting into the trash, digging, accidentally peeing and many other destructive behaviors. They could also show physical signs such as below.
To help keep your pet’s world relatively normal, it’s important to maintain your routines. If your dog goes to dog daycare a few times a week, keep that going as much as possible for the health of your dog.
Try to feed your pets and go for walks the same time you normally would. Don’t change their diets due to lack of dog food being out of stock, most pet stores are open for pick up.
If you have kids and normally have playtime when the kids come home from school, keep that same time reserved for fun with your pet. If your dog is used to you traveling and being away from you; consider a night of boarding just to keep your dog socialized.
What happens when Covid-19 is contained and people go back to work?
Short answer: Beware, dogs do get separation anxiety.
You’re spending a lot more quality time with your pet than normal and you both probably enjoy it immensely. But when the world rights itself and things go back to normal, it’s going to be tough — especially if you have a dog that has become used to you being there all day. If you go back to your old pre-coronavirus routine, there’s a chance your pet will develop separation anxiety.
Give your dog some space. As often as possible put some distance between you and your dog. Provide toys, chews and stuff Kong’s with frozen peanut butter or other treats in another room to keep him occupied. If needed, put up a barrier where he can watch you while he enjoys his favorite things.
If you go for walks, sometimes go without your dog so he can practice being alone. When you leave and you get home, don’t make a big deal about it to your dog.
Of course, if your dog routinely goes to doggie daycare, keep that socialization going. It is not only good for the body but stimulates your best friend’s brain?
Paige Rice is the Chief Fun Officer of Tahoe Best Friends in South Lake Tahoe. Rice is a certified obedience dog trainer by Animal Behavior College, one of the largest dog training schools in the world.
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