Is the COVID Pandemic Affecting Our Dogs?

 


This has certainly been a very trying, crazy, confusing, and scary almost two years for everyone as we are still facing so many uncertainties with the pandemic known as COVID-19. While we humans adjust and readjust to recommendations and mandates on how to #staysafe, especially now as folks are back to work and school, is it affecting our dogs? And, can our dogs get and/or spread the virus?
 

For dogs, having their beloved family members home all the time is a joy! More time to go for walks together, play, and snuggle. A dog’s dream! But, what happens as restrictions are lifted, and a dog’s hu-family starts to go back to the office to work, back to being in-school, or other activities allowed under the pandemic guidelines?


While under the “new normal,” old ways of working, attending school, and even shopping have changed. Many people are still working remotely from home, while students’ classrooms go between traditional classroom to at home via distance learning and back to the classroom again. Shopping can be done via curbside pickup (my personal preference). And all of this is allowing our dogs to be a bigger part of our daily lives. How wonderful is it to have your canine companion at your side while working from home or shopping for supplies? With the kids home more, it’s been one big play party for our dogs.

 

But, now as family members are returning to their work places and kids are back in school for the most part, the sudden absence in a dog’s home can certainly create an upset. Dogs can develop separation anxiety, and the once content-at-being-home dog can display behaviors from whining and barking to pacing, and even destructive behaviors such as chewing.

 

To help your dog adjust to your return “to the real world” after so many months of being home, here are some helpful tips:

 

Paws Were Made for Walking

Even if you can’t pop home to walk your dog in the middle of the day, be sure to have a nice walk before and after you come home. Allow yourself time so the walk is relaxed, and not rushed. Ply your pup with lots of attention! And maybe you can ask a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor to take your dog out for a midday walk.

 

 

Let’s Play Ball!

When you are home, head outside and engage in some fun dog play, such as an energetic game of Fetch! A tired dog is a happy dog! 

 

Brain power! 

A good source of mental stimulation for dogs are puzzles! So when you get home from work, break out a puzzle or two. Nothing spells fun like hunting out treats in a maze with a dog’s human! My FiveSibes have always been a huge fan of puzzles and the yummy treats hidden inside. 

 



Just a Little Shutterbug

If you are working or studying from home, what a great time to take some photos of your dog doing things s/he loves to do—running through that sprinkler, rolling on the grass, giving you smooches, and catching that Frisbee! Today’s moments become tomorrow’s memories!

 

What’s That Song?

Music can be a great friend to your dog who suddenly finds himself alone. Make a dog-friendly playlist (classical music tops the list in calming shelter dogs) that you can set up through your smart TV, or even set a music channel on the radio or television to fill the house with friendly, soothing sounds. (My Huskies enjoy the weather channel as it has it all—talking and music)!

 

 

Keep 'Em Calm

If it seems your dog is not happy with the sudden change, check with your veterinarian about calming aids. There are some great pheromone sprays and plug-ins, as well as natural calming products ranging from a fitted shirt to an herbal oral spray, CBD or full-spectrum hemp-infused treats, oils, and capsules, and even some diffused essential oils (note: always check with vet as some oils can be a trigger for a dog with seizures). If nothing works, your vet can also recommend a prescription anti-anxiety medication.

 

We here at FiveSibes used Treatibles to help with Wolf's anxiety.  (Affiliate Notice: Because I saw such positive results, I became a Treatibles affiliate, therefore, if you purchase it using our code, I will receive a small compensation *at no extra cost to you* when you use our code FIVESIBES10 for a 10% discount off your purchase. (The coupon is "evergreen," meaning you can use this code indefinitely on all subsequent orders).

 


Keeping Close While #SocialDistancing

Naturally, our dogs won’t be wearing masks, but these days it is a good practice to limit human-dog contact with others who do not reside in your home. Instead, take your dog outside to meet folks while #socialdistancing. Just nicely request others to not kiss your dog, as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that, “We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.”

“More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19,” states the CDC.

 

Feeling Under the Weather?

If you need to self-quarantine, use common sense when caring for your dog by keeping a distance, no kisses, and always wash your hands, especially before and after handling your dog’s food and items! Not sure for how long to wash your hands? According to the CDC, "Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the 'Happy Birthday' song from beginning to end twice."

 

No soap available? "You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label," states the CDC.

 

 

 "Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low."

 

Can Our Dogs Get and/or Spread Covid-19?
According to the CDC, “Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.”
 
What You Need to Know
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
  • “The risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to people is low. 
  • The virus can spread from people to animals during close contact. 
  • More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19. 
  • People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals, including pets, livestock, and wildlife.”
  •  
Has Any Dog Come Down with COVID-19?

In 2020, a report of a 7-year-old German Shepherd named “Buddy” from Staten Island, NY who, according to National Geographic, “became the first dog in the United States to be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” has passed away. “Even though the German shepherd likely had cancer, his health records show how little we know about animals and the coronavirus.”

According the the American Kennel Club (AKC), “We have known for decades that dogs can contract coronaviruses, most commonly the canine respiratory coronavirus (not COVID-19). The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not believed to be a health threat to dogs.”

 
"Canine Coronavirus: Understanding Coronavirus in Dogs"
An AKC.TV informative interview with Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC Chief Veterinary Officer

 In July 2021, Reuters reported that according to a Dutch study from Amsterdam, the following statistics were revealed:

"About one out of five pets will catch the disease from their owners," said Dr Els Broens of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, although there are no known cases of the disease spreading from pets to humans. Luckily, the animals do not get very ill from it."

The report goes on to state, “In Broens' study, presented (at that time) at the European Congress of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, 156 dogs and 154 cats from 196 households were tested in homes where humans were known to have had a coronavirus infection. About 17% of the animals, 31 cats and 23 dogs, had antibodies for COVID-19, suggesting they had been infected. In addition, six cats and seven dogs, or 4.2% of the animals, had an active infection as shown by a PCR test. Later testing showed those animals recovered quickly and did not pass it on to other pets in the same household, Broens said.”

 

"About one out of five pets will catch the disease from their owners, although there are no known cases of the disease spreading from pets to humans," said Dr Els Broens of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. "Luckily, the animals do not get very ill from it."   

 

What to Do If You Think Your Dog Has COVID?
Symptoms of COVID can mimic so many other illnesses. But, if you are concerned your pet has the virus, ***please do NOT bring it into the vet’s office. CALL them first and follow their instructions for visit/care.*** 

 

“Pets infected with this virus may or may not get sick. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered. Serious illness in pets is extremely rare,” states the CDC.



What Does This All Mean?

It's confusing to say the least. As things develop and guidelines change, first, keep calm. Pets can pick up on our energy and moods. Keep in mind that new info and studies are coming out all the time. It’s best to use common sense when handling your pets if you have COVID-19. 

 

So, until more is known, and how we can manage it and all of its changing variants, always err on the side of caution for both you and your dog. Together, we can do this, and #StaySafe.

 


 

Questions?

Keep up on the latest news from Center for Disease Control (CDC), the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration), and the American Kennel Club (AKC). If in doubt, or if you are concerned your pet has COVID-19, *CALL your vet for a phone consultation and follow instructions from there.*

*A version of this story first appeared in 4Knines in August 2020, and has been updated with new info January 2022.

 


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (That's me!)

Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the FiveSibes.com, an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed and Canine Epilepsy information, as well as her international award-winning FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in AmericanPet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of her award-winning "The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.

Dorothy is an 11-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2019, 2017, and 2016 for her fiction, writing, photography & design. She was also awarded The Grey Muzzle Award by The Grey Muzzle Organization for "Excellence in writing/media of the plight of at-risk senior dogs" on her show “The Sibe Vibe” broadcasted on Dog Works Radio and iTunes. Her book EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the 2018 Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and 2017 NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. 
 
Dorothy was also named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by AmericanPet Magazine, An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the #FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness Campaign and partnered with Purple Day® Every Day presented by The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for #Paws4Purple Project, both inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Twitter and Instagram (@FiveSibesMom). 
 

 
 
 

Comments

  1. Evil Covid messes with everything, we're so ready for it to take a hike!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My partner and I have been lucky - we have worked from home even before Covid, so don't have to worry about returning to an office and how our dogs would handle that. My senior dog especially I think would be pretty heartbroken if his 'dad' had to leave him to go work somewhere else. Covid is impacting life in so many ways, even for people who have managed to avoid getting sick. It's frustrating but what can we do besides try to make the best of a bad situation? Stay safe!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Layla is fortunate that I mainly work from home so it makes my life easy and if I have to go out I do it at times when her routine walk is not done. She gets Calm to relax her with her anxiety and it works wonders. I love the Treatibles, they are amazing but Madam gets very sleepy with CBD so had to find an alternative. When the virus started I asked my vet about Layla getting it and at the time was told not to worry so have been living with that conception ever since. stay safe with woof and love from Layla

    ReplyDelete
  4. With the spike in omicron, I'm very hesitant to have strangers walk up to us to try and pet Norman. Poor guy, he doesn't understand why he can't say hi to everyone like when I he was first adopted back in January 2020.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Doesn't the website look good! I love the wider column and it makes your important information so easy to read. Unlike the rest of the world New Zealand has not struggled as much with the madness of Covid (unless you count the foolish anti vaxxers!) but we have restrictions and yes, we need your valuable advice for our dogs too.

    Thank you for an important and highly relevant post.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a great article describing how the pandemic and covid has affected our dogs and pets. I know my dog, Henry, misses his "people". But I think it's always better to be safe than sorry. You did a great job with detailing the struggles. I think we are all trying to still figure this one out.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We've been very cautious about COVID and decided to stop taking our dogs to their regular groomer since she didn't get vaccinated. Even if is unlikely that she will get them sick, I can't take the risk of entering her shop. (Plus I don't want to support her since I think she's being careless with other people's lives.) Other than bad home haircuts, our dogs are enjoying having everyone home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you have said that about avoiding those that aren't vaccinated. Some of Henry's friends parents aren't vaccinated, which means no playdates. He doesn't understand why he can't see his best buddies. But I'd rather be safe both for him and for me. I've also been trying to trim Henry. Simply because the groomer is pretty loosy goosy on the covid protocols, which makes me nervous. I'm glad he's patient with me and he's not a show dog. 🤪🤣

      Delete
  8. Scarlett loves that we're home so often, and we've adapted to working both our jobs fully remote, as well as managing our AirBnB property part-time. She is in heaven! I honestly don't think we will ever choose to go back to non-remote work again because it's been so good for our family and perfect for spending extra time with her. As for COVID, I just had a friend and her pup both get Omicron, so we are being extra cautious as always. It's just not worth the risk, especially as Scarlett is in her golden years. Thank you for writing this!

    ReplyDelete

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