Your Therapy Dog Can Now Work From Home! How To Stay Safe With Your Dog

By Bev Thompson ~

Yes, Therapy Dogs International (TDI) and all therapy dogs are on hiatus all across America – unable to do what they do best – visiting the sick and homebound. But. . . if you have a dog at home!! Smile – through your fear and sorrow with one of the most healing of therapies – Your Dog.

Dogs as therapy can brighten your day and improve the quality of your life, by releasing oxytocin, ‘love hormones’ – as many of us shelter in place and are taking social distancing seriously during these difficult times. 

My Dog Is My Best Exercise Buddy. Now What?

One of the top 2020 New Year’s Resolutions – Exercise more! Our bodies need to move, but now what, when we are told to stay safe and stay home. How can we alleviate stress? Can we take our loyal companions for a short hike or a walk on the beach? 

There are many questions arising for dog-park and dog beachgoers, dog walkers, and dog-loving people about hand sanitizing, staying away from others, and shuttering in, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Can I still be around other people’s dogs? Should I refrain from touching other people’s dogs?

According to the Veterinary Medical Association, “There is little evidence, little reason to avoid petting,” however, “if practicing social distancing, you’d want to make sure the owner is – on the other end of the leash – which is at least six feet long.” 

Another question is whether a dog’s fur or skin could carry the virus if a person sneezes or coughs on their coats? “The virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs,” said Gail Golab, the association’s chief veterinary officer, “porous material, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.” Currently, there is no factual evidence of transmission from dogs to humans.

Is My Dog Safe? How can I protect my dog’s health?

The Good News? Your dog does not need a mask. According to Kristen Bernard, a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, “There is currently no evidence that dogs can become infected with the new Coronavirus,” she goes on to add, “early studies in COVID-19 have identified coronavirus found in wild animals – not domesticated dogs.”  

There is no vaccination against this novel coronavirus, but we must protect our companion co-pilots, our treasured therapy dogs against what we know of pet disorders. Make sure they’re up-to-date on anything that has been known to cause respiratory ailments, like Bordetella or parainfluenza. Speak further with Your Vet about these precautions and protections if you have any concerns.

The latest news is that most veterinary services are not doing elective surgeries at this time, but some, still honoring appointments for updating vaccinations. Call ahead to get updates about current changes in drop off and pick up of your pets for medical care.

Stay Safe!

Given the unknowns about this novel virus, the best advice, is to Stay Safe and take a conservative approach and refrain from touching others’ dogs. The Veterinary Association recommends that everyone wash their hands before and after touching a pet. We all know by now, that frequent hand washing is a must – no matter what our hands have touched. Stay SIX heart-feet apart wherever you walk.