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Care for, rely on pets during COVID-19 outbreak

Baby Cooper, UK Therapy Dog

/ by Susan Pressly Lephart, PhD

Written by Susan Pressly Lephart, PhD, animal-assisted therapy coordinator with UK Integrative Medicine & Health Services.

On this #NationalPuppyDay, you may be wondering what impact COVID-19 has on your animals.

While it’s true that pets can get other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, there is no evidence that companion animals like dogs or cats can get COVID-19.

However, in the spirit of general safety and hygiene, you should take the following steps around your pets:

  • Wash your hands (for 20 seconds, with soap) after handling animals, their waste and food.
  • Clean up after your pets properly.
  • Check in with your veterinarian to see how they are handling scheduled appointments. 

What if you’re sick?

If you get sick, it’s recommended that you restrict contact with pets and other animals – just like you would with other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals when you are ill. If you must care for your pet, wash your hands before and after any interactions.

That being said, studies have found that there are many benefits to spending time with a furry friend, such as:

  • Lowered stress-related cortisol levels.
  • Decreased anxiety and stress.
  • Lowered blood pressure and pulse.

While it’s important that we practice social distancing, it’s healthy (and encouraged!) to take your dog for a walk, run or hike. Keeping a regular feeding and exercise schedule for your pets will help YOU keep a consistent routine – reducing your own stress and anxiety.

And since our therapy dogs are not working right now due to visitor restrictions, we hope you enjoy this gallery of throwback pictures of our therapy dogs as puppies.

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