Health and safety protocols for Guide Dog Handlers in managing COVID-19
Wednesday 1 April 2020
However, if you contract COVID-19, develop symptoms, or have been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, there are important steps you must take to protect yourself and others. This may include during hospitalisation, self-isolation, or in quarantine.
The Federal Government announced on Sunday, 29 March 2020, new rules to limit social contact to one person outside of your immediate family either within your home, or in public places. This means you can still go for a walk with your dog and family members and/or one non-family contact, provided you follow the required social distancing recommendations and any specific State or Territory laws with regards to these new measures.
Our veterinarians have provided the following advice to help you manage your dog and your health while these COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
How should I be interacting with my dog in these times?
Normal interactions with your own dog, including good hygiene practices such as hand washing prior to and after petting, should be continued. It is best in all situations to not kiss your dog or share food or utensils.
Although it is highly unlikely, there is the risk that your dog can act as a fomite (surface) for the spread of disease. For this reason, you should extend your social distancing measures to include your pet. It is OK to go for walks, but do not allow other people to pet your dog. When you come home you can wash your dog’s feet in soap and water, just as you wash your hands.
Can my dog catch COVID-19?
There is no evidence of dogs contracting COVID-19 but, as stated above, they can carry the virus or parts of the virus on their coats, nose or mouth. It is therefore critical that any social distancing practices apply to your dog as much as they apply to you.
What can I do now to be prepared in case I cannot care for my dog?
It is best that you contact your family members or close contacts to discuss possible care for your dog in the event that you require hospitalisation or need to be in quarantine. If you do not have any family or close contacts you can call upon, please contact your local Guide Dog staff member to discuss alternative arrangements.
You should prepare an emergency kit including a minimum of two weeks’ food, medications, notes around health concerns and contact details for your dog’s veterinarian.
What if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 you will need to be careful not to transmit the virus to others. This will include the person that is going to take your dog should you require care. To reduce the risk of passing on the virus you will need to:
- Reduce interaction with your dog as much as possible.
- If available to you, have another household member perform the daily tasks such as feeding and playing with your dog.
- Do not cough on or near your dog.
Should your dog be cared for someone outside your household if you are unwell, they can institute a procedure to limit their risk of contact with yourself or any potential virus on the dog. This will involve:
- Wearing personal protective equipment such as a face mask, gloves and goggles
- Taking your dog from the backyard without contact with yourself using their own lead and collar.
- Washing the dog in your front yard with liquid soap. Lather this on for at least 10 minutes, over the entire body and head but avoiding the eyes and ear canals, then rinse off well.
- Washing the lead and collar
If the person caring for your dog is concerned about possible transmission of COVID-19, contact your veterinarian. They may be able to perform the pick-up and bathing or quarantine your dog for a few days between housing if necessary.
What if I develop symptoms or come in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 carrier?
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 it is important to seek medical advice immediately and to follow the guidelines at www.health.gov.au
If you have been near someone confirmed with COVID-19 you need also to follow the health department’s guidelines.
Commonly asked questions and up to date information regarding COVID-19 and pets can be found at the following links