There can be very few people whose lives have not been dramatically affected by the restrictions of lockdown and, if we look beyond the personal tragedies hidden in the official statistics, many of us are finding life increasingly difficult as the social restrictions continue.
If you are a key worker, your life will have become very much busier with all the stresses and strains that this involves for you and your family and, if not, you may have found yourself furloughed with the uncertainties that this involves or have even been made redundant. Social distancing carries its own concerns and our inability to get out and about, as we used to do, is stressful for our extended families, friends and even our pets.
While being home all day can be exciting for our pets, dogs like routine just as much as we do. When your dog barks to tell you it’s five o'clock and teatime, it isn't because he has discovered how to wear a watch, it's because he has fully embraced the idea of routine. As humans, when our routine is disturbed, we can find that stimulating or stressful, depending on the background causes and much of our stress is transmitted to our pets through our body language, our general demeanour and the tonality of our voices. Over thousands of years, dogs have refined the art of reading our faces and voices and I am sometimes reminded that our twelve-year-old Labrador knows me better than I know myself. Is it any wonder that this can be a difficult time for our pets too?
What are the key issues here that worry people? Perhaps we should start with the fear that our pets could catch this virus from us. Covid 19 is just one of a number of coronaviruses, so named because their appearance under an electron microscope looks like a crown - or corona - with a series of protrusions, and animals can contract many of these too. However, while there are viruses, like the common cold, that we get but which animals such as cats and dogs do not, we are aware of a very small number of animals testing positive for Covid 19 in some other countries. However, there is no substantiated evidence that this particular coronavirus can make our pets sick or that they can transmit it to us.
If, when you are out walking your dog, someone stops and pats the dog you shouldn't worry but it would be good practice to wipe the dog's fur with a clean, damp, disposable cloth once you get home as we know that the virus can live for several hours on different surfaces. Do not use an antibacterial wipe as this could cause a skin problem in some dogs. Wiping the fur reduces the chances of any residual virus that could possibly have been deposited on the dog's fur from transferring to another human.
For the same reason, it would be advisable not to stroke another dog while you are out and about.
When walking your dog stay local, and don't take the dog in your car to a different place to get some variation in the route as this increases the chance of human to human transmission.
When you are out, maintain social distancing and this means that you should have your dog on a lead, wherever there are other people and dogs, to avoid having to get close to another person to regain control of your dog.
Local councils should continue to empty receptacles for poo bags, and it is important that you maintain social distancing at these sites too, remembering to wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you get home.
If you would like more information on any of the services that Leading the Way Pet Care provides, please contact us via email or phone us on 0800 027 9846.