The introduction of the Coronavirus lockdown across the country has important implications for the way we look after our dogs. In this blog I hope to provide you with answers and information on how to adapt to lockdown life.
How often can I take my dog out for a walk?
Current Government guidance is that people should only be leaving their house to exercise once a day, so perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to give your dog a really good walk, making sure of course to observe the 2m social distancing requirements. If you are a runner you can use an active belt and take your dog(s) with you on their lead hands free. With households of multiple people, if not self-isolating, maybe take turns taking your dog out, enabling multiple opportunities for them to stretch their legs.
Don’t forget to take your Earth Rated Poo Bags along with you. These contain an EPI additive which helps them to break down, unlike traditional plastic bags, significantly reducing their environmental impact.
What if I am self-isolating?
If you are self-isolating with symptoms of Coronavirus you will not be able to take your dog beyond your garden or perimeter of your property. In this instance you could perhaps get someone from outside your own home to walk your dog, but be careful to ensure there is no contact. I would recommend advising volunteer dog walkers to use their own leads or disinfect the owner’s lead before taking charge of your dog. You could have a special ‘COVID-19 Lead’.
Make sure you exercise good hygiene precautions and maintain the 2m distance during the handover. Perhaps tie your dog to the gate post or fence outside your house then move back allowing the volunteer to take the lead. Alternatively, let your dog into a gated garden and let the dog walker take it from there.
If you are self-isolating or working from home, this might be the perfect time for you to exercise extra dog bonding; through playing, training and grooming. The Massage Brush is a useful tool with a focus on your dog's well-being and cleanliness. The brush can be used on all dogs including young and sensitive skinned dogs, freeing the dog's coat from dead hair and dust while also massaging and stimulating blood flow.
Can dogs spread Coronavirus?
There is no evidence that dogs can spread COVID-19. However, this does not mean that dog owners should not be mindful of the virus when caring for their animals, and stringent hygiene practices should be adopted. Just like human hands, pet fur could carry the virus from one person to another, so dog owners are advised to wash their hands after handling their dogs. You can wash your dog as frequently as every other week (with Animology gentle shampoos, it can be even more frequent). When in doubt, use your judgment. If your dog starts to smell, it’s probably time for a bath.
Avoid stroking and handling your dog straight after using sanitisers. Also, try to avoid your dog licking you.
How can I look after my dog at home during lockdown?
Just as humans are doing everything they can to stave off boredom and loneliness in order to mitigate their anxiety, your dog needs stimulation and a chance to burn off some energy too.
Dogs can be kept healthy and mentally stimulated if owners focus on games and training. Perhaps try hiding dog treats around the house for your dog to find. Playing hide-and-seek and fetch and tug games with soft toys is great interactive fun for you and your dog. The Kong Wubba and Rope toys are perfect for these activities. Dedicating more time in your day to playing with your dog will help to improve your mental state as well.
Dogs should also spend occasional ‘quiet times’ in a separate room, to avoid the potential for separation anxiety when owners go back to work.
Are vets still open?
Yes, but practices are being advised to provide urgent and emergency treatment only for the time being. If you are concerned about your dog’s health, you are advised to phone your vet for any questions/advice about your dog’s treatment rather than visiting practices in person.
The RSPCA is also running an emergency-only service through its frontline staff, hospitals and centres.
What is happening to pet shops and pet food?
Pet shops are currently remaining open during the lockdown as they provide an essential service.
Pet owners can contribute to a smooth supply of pet food to everybody by shopping sensibly and avoiding stockpiling. The RSPCA recommend keeping 14 days’ supply of dog food and to avoid unnecessary trips to your pet store. The government has recommended that people should shop online where possible for dog food and especially for non-essentials such as dog toys, treats and dog accessories.
Can I take my dog to the groomers?
Groomers and their clients should consider whether the necessary human contact and travel are essential, or in current circumstances may be delayed to protect public health. The Kennel Club has issued a statement which states that within some breeds, grooming is seen as a welfare issue and would recommend owners refer to the British Groomers Association for up-to-date information, and to speak to their usual groomer for advice.
Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives
While this is a very difficult time for everyone, with a bit of ingenuity you and your dog can use this time positively. Take time to evaluate and think about social distancing and minimising outsider contact every time you leave the house, and we will be back to normal in no time. Be sensible and stay safe.