By Janet Ingber, AccessWorld Author
As we all deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we need to consider the safety of our guide dogs and companion animals. The Animal Medical Center in New York City provides answers to many questions. It employs over 100 veterinarians and is the largest non-profit animal hospital in the world. Below is a summary of its information.
Author’s note: The terms “companion animals” and “pets” are used throughout this blog post. Since guide dogs are dogs, this information automatically applies to them even if not specifically mentioned.
According to the Animal Medical Center, it is possible, but rare for COVID-19 to affect companion animals. Two dogs in China tested weak positive for the virus. However, neither dog showed signs of infection. At present, it is believed that the dogs got the virus from their infected owners.
After these diagnoses, IDEXX Laboratories tested thousands of dog and cat specimens with no positive results. At this time, there is no evidence that an infected animal can transmit the virus to a human. Even if your dog or cat is touched by an infected person, it is very unlikely the animal can get the virus or give it to you.
AMC recommends that you:
- “Wash your hands often with soap and water. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and be sure to get the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- “Wash your hands after touching or playing with your pets. While there is no evidence at this time that pets can spread the coronavirus, washing hands after interacting with animals is always a good idea.”
- “When you don’t have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.”
It is also recommended that you have a two-week supply of your guide dog’s or pet’s food and medication. Make a list of all medications your guide dog or pet takes. Include the name of the medication, dose, and how the medication is administered.
Have a friend or relative available if you become sick and cannot take care of your guide dog or pet. Make sure your dog is microchipped and is wearing an ID tag.
If, unfortunately, you contract COVID-19, the Animal Medical Center recommends the following guidelines:
- “Restrict contact with your pet, just as you would other people.”
- “Avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.”
- “Avoid sneezing or coughing on or near your pet.”
- “If you must care for your pet while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact and wear a face mask.
The below pages are updated as new information becomes available.