SENSATIONAL reporting of scientific concerns has today prompted UK-wide concern that the Coronavirus will not only affect humans but could also lead to domestic pets being infected.
Read the small print, and the tabloid stories admit that scientists are actually proposing caution and testing of animals to see whether animals can carry the virus and whether they can become ill as a result. It’s a long way from the disaster the red-tops’ headlines are suggesting.
The scare stories have prompted a quick response from the Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. Of course the virus could live for a short while on a pet’s collar, or even their fur, the Trust admits – just as the virus could live on any surface. There’s a danger that as the lockdown restrictions ease, dogs will come into contact with more people. If those people are infected and are too close, more dogs could carry the virus around for a while. That is far from saying that dogs will harbour the virus and readily transmit it to their owners and other people.
The Dogs Trust advises that people recognise that dogs are part of the world in which Coronavirus exists – and take appropriate precautions. It has issued the following advice to owners and to those who encounter pets owned by other people.
•Wash your hands well with soap and water for 20 seconds after touching your dog or any of their belongings.
•As hard as it may be, avoid kissing your dog, and letting them kiss you.
•Avoid contact with other people’s pets.
•Ensure your dog does not come into contact with other people or dogs. If your dog is likely to go up to other people or dogs, you may need to keep them on a lead whilst out walking.
•Don’t be afraid to ask people not to pet your dog.
•If you’ve tested positive for Coronavirus or have symptoms, limit physical contact with your dog as much as possible, as hard as it may be.
•If your pet is sick or injured, call your vet ahead of time before going to the surgery.
•If you do visit friends and family with your dog as part of a social bubble, do remember to wash your hands and avoid visiting if you are unwell.
Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust, said, “We understand that dog owners may be concerned about the potential effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their four-legged friends and whether or not they can contract or transfer the disease. The main source of infection is human-to-human transmission, and there is no current evidence to suggest your dog poses any significant risk to your health.
“Although there are currently no confirmed instances of Coronavirus (COVID-19) being passed from dogs to people, just like human hands and any other surface it is possible for them to carry the virus on their fur, their collar and lead.
“To keep ourselves and others safe it is important that we all work together to follow Government guidance and keep at least two metres apart from others when venturing outside. To avoid situations where your dog might approach and greet other people or dogs, this may mean walking your dog on a lead when in areas with other people.
“When caring for a dog it is important to remember that basic hygiene is key. This includes washing your hands before and after handling them, as well as avoiding kissing, being licked or sharing food. If you have tested positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) we would recommend limiting physical contact with your dog as much as possible too – as hard as it may be.”
The Dogs Trust cares for 15,000 dogs across its network of 20 rehoming centres in the UK and one in Dublin. Dogs Trust has a non-destruction policy and will never put a healthy dog to sleep. The charity also focuses its efforts on understanding dogs and sharing that knowledge with the wider public to prevent problem behaviours that can result in relinquishment or abandonment. For more information, go to:
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