Having pets at home can take some of the loneliness out of self-isolating, but to keep our furry friends safe too, those social distancing orders need to apply to every member in the household.
Brian Wierima, community relations coordinator at Gulf Coast Humane Society, said his dogs are helping him cope with the coronavirus.
“I don’t see how anyone could be sitting at home alone. My three dogs have made this transition or these times a lot easier.”
That’s why he’s taking precautions to keep them safe from the outbreak, too.
While research shows dogs are not as likely to get the virus as other pets, like cats and ferrets, that doesn’t mean they’re immune.
Experts say that just because a pet can catch the virus doesn’t mean they can pass it along to you.
Kristine Hollingsworth, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health, Collier County, said that “pets and domestic animals do not have the ability to give humans COVID-19.”
Chief veterinary surgeon for the SPCA Jane Gray explained, “Infected does not mean contagious, does not mean it can spread the disease. The current danger, as far as everyone is aware, it’s human-to-human transmission, not dogs.”
There are steps you can take to protect your four-legged family members from catching the coronavirus.
“Take them out for a walk,” Wierima said. “That is the best idea just to get yourself exercise, but keep your social distance. If someone wants to come up and pet your pet, just say, ‘not right now.'”
And if you’re the one showing symptoms, the CDC and local health officials say, even if you’re isolating at home, ask someone else to care for your pet.
Wierima said you should also have a plan in place for your pets in case you end up in the hospital. That includes reaching out to people who could feed them while you’re gone, packing a bag just in case your pet needs to stay somewhere else, and hiding a key so the caregiver can get into your home to help.