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Prepare a Care Plan for your Dogs in the COVID-19 Age

Prepare a Care Plan for your Dogs in the COVID-19 Age

By Stacy Mason, American Kennel Club

During this age of COVID-19, you practice social distancing and abide by stay at home regulations. But even with all safety measures, you should be prepared if the worst happens and you become ill or hospitalized.

Create a plan and designate caretakers so your dogs are supported if your family and you are unable to do so. Being prepared and having detailed instructions will ease your mind and speed your recovery if needed.

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Check List

  1. Have two weeks of food and medicine on hand for every pet.
  2. Identify who will care for your animal in case of illness or hospitalization. Attempt to have more than one person committed to helping care for your animals.
  3. Create a list of instructions for each dog. Be specific and detailed. It may help to supplement with video or pictures.
  4. Identify every animal. While you may recognize who is who in a group of five black Labrador Retrievers, not everyone will. Collars and tags may be needed.
  5. List your veterinarians with alternate numbers in case that clinic is closed.
  6. Identify and prioritize essential care. While you may normally play ball 30 minutes a day, is that essential in the event of an emergency?
  7. Have written and electronic copies of instructions in an easy–to–find location. Consider placing them in plastic sheeting, so they can be cleaned and disinfected.
  8. In the event you begin to feel ill, immediately contact those on your emergency list to apprise them of the situation.
  9. If you are ill, minimize contact with your pets. If someone needs to pick them up, you want to minimize their viral exposure load.

In the Event of COVID-19 Diagnosis

You need a plan in the event you test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to care for your animals—or you are admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 and do not have someone at your home who can care for your pets.

  1. Do not send anyone into your home to care for your animal if they have not already been exposed at your residence.
  2. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states there is no evidence that dogs are a source of Coronavirus infection. But the virus can exist on surfaces, especially nonporous ones, so do not handle anything provided for your pets without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gloves and goggles, mask, or face shield.
  3. If you suspect you are COVID-19 positive, shelter in place in your “sick room.” Do not cuddle or handle your pets. Keep all contact with your animals to a minimum.
  4. If you must go to the hospital and have no one already exposed within your household to care for your pets, place your instructions in a plastic sleeve and your pet in a crate or carrier at the front door of your home. If you are being removed by emergency personnel, ask them to place your pet in a crate or carrier outside the door or as near as possible. Have the emergency personnel contact the local emergency manager and let them know you have no one to care for your animals.
  5. If you have someone who can care for your animals, but they have not been exposed, have the emergency personnel contact the local emergency manager and have an animal response team remove and decontaminate your pets and release them to your designated caregiver. Give them the caregiver’s name and contact information.
  6. Only personnel who have been authorized by you and are trained in the proper PPE and authorized by the local emergency manager should be allowed to remove any animal from your home.
  7. Instruct your care providers to wear PPE when picking up your pets and their supplies. They should minimize contact with the pets for five days or immediately bathe the pets while wearing protective gear.


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