How to Clean My Dog's Paws After a Walk During Quarantine
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While we should clean our dog's paws after a walk where they might get dirty, the current COVID-19 pandemic means extra precautionary measures need to be in place. Containment of the novel coronavirus means anything that possibly comes in contact with contagious material needs to be cleaned. In the case of dogs, since there could be infected material on the ground, it is possible they will.
At AnimalWised, we need to stress this is an extra precaution. Current evidence indicates that domestic animals cannot contract or transmit the virus. However, contagious material might adhere to their paws when walking outside. This is especially worrying if you have children in the house who crawl. That's why we explain how to clean your dog's paws after a walk during quarantine.
Can I take my dog for a walk during quarantine?
Given the current lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, movement is restricted. In most areas, people are not allowed to walk for unnecessary purposes. Some question whether walking their dog is necessary. To know if this is the case where you are, you will need to check your local lockdown restrictions.
Generally, most quarantine restrictions allow for dogs to go out a couple of times a day for necessary urination and bowel movements. Some places still allow people to go out for exercise once a day, as long as it is within a certain radius of the home.
While normal circumstances require your dog to exercise to maintain health, we may need to restrict this to inside the home. This means we can utilize games to play indoors with your dog to keep their energy expenditure up. We also should consider reduce portion size to lessen the risk of obesity. Veterinary clinics are closed to walk-ins as a preventive measure, but they are still essential services. This means they can be called for advice and emergency veterinary clinics will be open for when needed.
If you are unsure about your dog's health, you will be told what to do once you call the vet. Maintaining your dog's health is still important, so they should admit emergency cases. This may change depending on the progress of the pandemic, so keep up to date with your local information. For some extra assistance in helping your dog expend energy, you can take a look at our article on how to tire a dog out.
How to walk a dog during quarantine
Walking a dog during a state of alarm is not the same as other times. We must never let them off their leash, even in specialized dog walking spaces. While it may be tough for some dogs, we need to restrict interaction with other dogs or people. This is a possible way to cross-contaminate the virus. Exiting the home should be limited to walking them long enough to urinate or defecate. Some countries issue on the spot fines for longer walks.
We need to limit the area we walk with the dog during coronavirus quarantine. Essentially, we should not go further than the environs of the house. For people with access to a garden, we should let the dog do their business here. Many countries have locked down beaches, parks and other communal areas. We should avoid these places regardless.
The dog must always be kept on leash when walking. If you have a longer or extension leash, they can be used as long as they are kept away from the property of others or when other animals or people are nearby. Although many people may want to go for a walk together, only one person should accompany the dog at a given time. It is recommended that the same person always take the dog. As with before, it is mandatory that you pick up the dog's feces. It is also recommended you take a bottle of soapy water with you and squirt this on areas where the dog urinates.
How to disinfect my dog's paws during quarantine
As we have noted, dogs are not considered to play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 disease to humans. There is also no data to indicate that they can catch the new SARS-CoV-2 virus, suffer from the disease or infect their peers. However, information and research into the subject is still in its infancy. Cleaning your dog's paws after a walk during quarantine helps minimize any potential risk, even if it is small.
There are two main methods of cleaning your dogs paws:
- Antibacterial wipes: if we hold the dog's paws, we can clean them thoroughly with an antibacterial wipe to remove microbes. Dispose of the wipe carefully after washing the dog's paws.
- Soap and water: it may be a good idea to set out a wash station for your dog. Once they come back from their quarantine walk, we can wash their their paws in soapy water and rinse them off with clean water.
We need to avoid alcohol as this can agitate the sensitive skin of the dog's paws. Moreover, we need to avoid the use of bleach or similar cleaning products. The dog will lick their paws as part of their self-grooming and this can be toxic as well as damaging their skin.
Other hygiene measures after the walk
Other hygiene measures to consider include wash our own hands thoroughly with soap and water after we clean the dog's paws. In fact, we should ensure the first thing we do as we enter the door after walking the dog during quarantine is to wash our hands thoroughly. Hand washing should be practiced any time after we handle the dog. Similarly, their belongings such as toys need to be cleaned frequently.
An alternative to washing your dog's paws after walking the dog during quarantine is to wear special booties. These are dog ‘shoes’ which cover the dog's paws and prevent them from making direct contact with the ground. If you use them, they need to be cleaned carefully each time they return home. Not all dogs will enjoy wearing them and it might make walking difficult.
Can I walk my dog if I have coronavirus?
The answer to whether you can walk your dog if you have COVID-19 is a firm no. People who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, even if they are symptomless, need to stay isolated to avoid infecting others. Those infected with SARS-CoV-2 who do have symptoms need to remain indoors. They will need to be isolated form others who are in the home and their status needs to be routinely monitored.
Symptoms of persons infected with COVID-19 type of coronavirus have a diverse spectrum of symptoms, but severe cases seriously affect respiration and may need to be hospitalized. Pets need to be kept away from anyone who is infected with the virus, regardless of their symptomatology. If you live alone with a companion animal, you will need to arrange for someone else to take care of the dog. This person will need to follow the same guidelines for their own hygiene and that of the dog.
Unfortunately, too many dog guardians live alone or have no one available to help take care of the dog. In some cases, this would be considered a force mahjeure and they will have to take the dog outside to defecate or urinate. In these cases, a mask and gloves are necessary. The affected person should not be in contact with any other people or animals. Hand washing and other preventive measures need to be taken.
When the virus is more advanced, it will be considered a medical emergency. Contact your doctor and ask for their advice. If you want some more help, you can also take a look at our article on how to take care of your dog during quarantine.
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- World Health Organization. (2020). Reducing animal-human transmission of emerging pathogens. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus/who-recommendations-to-reduce-risk-of-transmission-of-emerging-pathogens-from-animals-to-humans-in-live-animal-markets
- College of Veterinarians of Seville. (2020). Guidelines for walking the dog during the coronavirus alarm state. https://www.portalveterinaria.com/animales-de-compania/actualidad/33132/pautas-para-pasear-al-perro-durante-el-estado-de-alarma-por-el-covid-19.html