The Worst Thing You're Doing With Your Dog Right Now
You're the only one who needs a mask when you two go on your walks.
Being careful in the time of coronavirus doesn't just mean taking care of yourself—it also means taking extra care of those you love. For some, that may include doing errands for elderly relatives or keeping the family home as virus-free as possible through thorough cleaning. And as all animal lovers know, pets are a part of that family. If you have a furry friend, you'll surely want to take steps that will keep them happy and healthy, too. But while COVID-19 can infect dogs, cats, and other animals, one protective action you might be taking with your pup actually puts them in more danger. It's unsafe to put a mask on your dog.
While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that most people over the age of two (excluding individuals with breathing problems and those who can't remove them on their own) wear a mask or face covering in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, this recommendation does not extend to dogs or any other animals. Like children under two and individuals with mobility and dexterity issues, dogs cannot easily remove masks themselves, which makes them a suffocation risk.
Furthermore, the CDC doesn't believe that domestic animals play a "significant role in spreading the virus." As experts say that wearing a mask is more effectively in protecting those around you than it is protecting you from inhaling infected droplets, putting animals in masks would not serve a significant purpose. However, the CDC does recommend that pets come into contact with as few people and animals from outside of their own household as possible. Walking your dog through your neighborhood is relatively low risk, compared to letting them run free in a park or dog run, where they're likely to approach other dogs and humans. This could also put you and other people in your home at risk. "In the very rare chance that the other person that you encounter was an asymptomatic carrier and the dog was carrying the virus on their fur, [they] could pass the virus to your dog's fur and then on to you," Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinary consultant for DogLab, previously told Best Life.
The CDC also recommends that anyone in your home who does become sick should self-isolate from everyone else in the household, including animals. And if you are sick and must care for your pet, you should wear a mask around them and wash your hands well before and after interacting. Take care with the cleaning products you use as well, as many are poisonous to animals, and do not sanitize your dogs' toys or accessories in powerful cleaners.
According to Nature, two dogs in Hong Kong who were found to be infected with the virus never showed symptoms, so right now, it seems as though infection doesn't pose a serious heath risk to your furry friend. Curious whether your dog may be carrying the virus without you knowing? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not recommend regular coronavirus testing for pets at this time, though the agency is monitoring the situation along with the CDC, and recommendations may change.
For pets who are loving this whole lockdown situation, Here's Proof That Dogs Are Really Winning While in Quarantine.