Dog walking has increased and become an essential part of daily routines for many. So I'd like to take a moment and share some current information and tips on how to do so safely, from verified and credible sources.
Can I Walk My Dog and How Can We Stay Safe?
According to the American Kennel Club, "Physical and mental exercise are extremely important for dogs and dog owners alike. Before taking a walk, check your local regulations. As long as the area where you reside remains safe enough to venture outside, dog owners feeling healthy and well should plan to continue walking their dogs daily, albeit with added safety measures like maintaining social distancing and covering your face with a mask. Observe any local ordinances concerning curfews, even if that means adjusting your dog walking schedule.
Owners should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after each walk. Practice social distancing measures by walking your dog in uncrowded areas when possible. If you live in a big city, make efforts to take your dog down less heavily trafficked blocks, or try adjusting walks to less busy times of day and night. Prevent your dog from associating with other people out of abundance of caution."
Are Dog Parks Off Limits or Safe?
Some states have closed dog parks, while some are asking owners to exercise caution and use their best judgment. If you decide to visit your local dog park, it's best to drive by to see how busy it is first, and practice social distancing by staying six feet away from others once inside.
According to NPR, and Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist at Honor Health, "she's not especially concerned about dog fur transmitting the virus. Still, she would err on the side of caution and ask people not to pet your dog right now." If your dog comes in contact with other dogs or people during your walk, use pet wipes to wipe them down when you get home.
Can Dogs Get COVID-19?
According to the Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is aware of a very small number of pets, including dogs and cats, outside the United States reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people with COVID-19. The CDC has not received any reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. As of April 7, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.
It is advisable that pet owners and veterinarians strictly observe hand-washing and other infection-control measures, as outlined by the CDC when handling animals."
All around the world, people's habits have changed dramatically thanks to this unprecedented pandemic. And as long as you're careful and use caution, a nice long walk in the spring sunshine can do both you and your dog a world of good!