During the unprecedented changes that have come with COVID-19, dog lovers around the world are wondering: can they pet dogs that don’t belong to them? Can their dogs go to the dog park, or play with each other?
The answer, like everything with COVID-19, is a little complicated.
The good news is that it’s very unlikely that you could get coronavirus from your dog or vice versa. You can learn more about everything you need to know about COVID-19 and your dog here.
However, what is possible, although not likely, is that, like any surface such as a doorknob or a countertop, coronavirus could stay on dogs’ fur after being touched by a person who has the virus.
So can I touch a dog that isn’t mine during the COVID-19 Crisis?
Coronavirus tends to linger longest on smooth, flat surfaces like steel and plastic. It is less likely to cling to a dog’s fur for hours or days, although it’s possible. Most experts consider petting a dog—or dogs touching each other at a dog park or on a walk—to be a relatively low risk activity. However, if you or someone that has interacted with your pet has the virus, you should not allow others to touch them and should not touch other dogs.
If you don’t have the virus and decide to pet a dog along your walk, the most important thing to remember is that even though the dog itself is low risk, its human might not be. You still have to maintain social distance—6 feet—between yourself and other people. So only pet dogs if they are on a long leash or not close to their human! If you take your dog to the dog park, maintain social distance from other people. Some cities have closed dog parks, but most have kept them open.
Precautions to Take
If you do touch a dog that isn’t yours, treat touching the dog just as you would any other surface that you might interact with—like a shopping cart or door handle. Wash your hands or sanitize them immediately afterward, and do not touch your face.
In order to keep yourself and your pets safe, it’s best to bathe your dogs a little more often than usual, and wash your hands or sanitize them after walks to be safe.
We hope you’re staying safe and healthy and staying home!
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