The corona pandemic has changed the day-to-day life of millions of people all over the world. Dog owners who go into quarantine in order to not spread the virus further are asking themselves: how can I take care of my dog during the quarantine? For now the UK is in lockdown which entails more relaxed measures than a quarantine.
Walking with dogs under quarantine – Difference to a lockdown
© Eva / stock.adobe.com
Legislation and precautionary measures regarding coronavirus
A quarantine is one of the most severe measures in day-to-day life that national infection protection acts can stipulate, because being under quarantine means that individuals are no longer allowed to leave their home. Holiday-makers in a quarantine region may not leave the country, but generally have to stay isolated there for at least two weeks. Individuals are frequently affected: people who were in risk areas or had contact with people suffering from Covid-19. Anyone who violates the respective quarantine requirements can expect severe punishment in the form of fines or prison sentences. The limitations are less severe with a lockdown. Faced with the rapid spread of coronavirus, all European countries have adopted more or less strict rules for their citizens. However, these aren't the same everywhere and can differ depending on the country. Hence, it's important to know the applicable rules in each case.
Dog owners under lockdown
With lockdowns such as those imposed in the UK, Italy, France and Spain during the corona crisis, it's still possible for citizens to leave the house. In Ireland citizens are still allowed to go out in groups not larger than four (info from: 27/03/2020), but are strongly advised to stay at home and only leave to: go to work, care for others, essential shopping.
What does a lockdown entail for dog owners?
In contrast to a quarantine, people are allowed to leave their home during a lockdown as long as there is a valid reason. In most countries and municipalities, one such reason is taking the dog for a walk. You should be alone or with people from the same household. You should ideally keep a distance of at least two metres from other people. For instance, a walk in the woods during which you encounter few people is ideal. It's important to be aware of the local regulations in this case too. In the UK, you can take your dog out for walks as part of your personal exercise routine. Naturally numerous dog owners shouldn't walk together with their dogs. Along with this, dog schools have to close in most affected areas, although outdoor training can take place.
Dog owners under quarantine
Strict rules are in place under quarantine and those affected may only leave the house with the permission of the competent authority, the public health department. Even shopping is forbidden. Supplies can be purchased online, for instance, with delivery staff leaving packages by the door.
How can a dog be taken for walks during a quarantine?
Unfortunately the answer is that you may not go for walks with your dog if you are under quarantine, because quarantine means staying at home. If you have a garden or terrace, your dog can relieve itself there if need be. Even sporting activities like retrieval or agility are allowed in your own garden. If you don't have this option, you will have to ask other people to take care of your dog. Walks in the park or woods are forbidden for dog owners under quarantine. Neighbours with a garden or dog kennels may be able to help. For instance, the authorities in Austria recommend putting dogs in kennels or giving them to a dog-sitter for the quarantine period. However, dog kennels soon get fully booked if entire municipalities are under quarantine. If only a few dog owners are affected – such as those returning from risk areas – it's easier to find care provision.
Keeping dogs meaningfully occupied during a quarantine
You have a garden where you can allow your dog to relieve itself? Great, then you don't have to be separated from one another! However, simply opening the door to your garden isn't enough for most dogs – they need activity. Especially dogs that spent several hours per day out with their owner soon build up surplus energy. Retrieval or tracking games are excellent options to wear out dogs. Perhaps you will also venture into unknown territory: how about dog dancing or new tricks? There are numerous online guides that allow you to teach your dog something new. As a top tip, some dog schools make a virtue out of necessity and offer online courses in times of crisis.
Can dogs transmit coronavirus?
No – dogs and other pets cannot transmit the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus or Covid-19. This means that they are unable to be hosts for the virus, as it does not reproduce in their body. Two dogs made the headlines in Hong Kong with a low concentration of coronavirus on their snout. This was in all probability a virus absorbed from their surroundings, since the dogs' owners were suffering from Covid-19. A cat in Belgium is known to have been infected with COVID-19, showing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and respiratory issue. The cat's owner got sick with coronavirus a week before transmitting it to the cat. A cat to human transmission is still seen as unlikely. The cat in question recovered after 9 days. Dog owners should concentrate on the usual hygiene measures in contact with their canine companions. This includes, for instance, not letting their dog lick their face. If you have cosy cuddles with your dog, you should wash your hands before touching your face or other people.