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Dogs and COVID-19

Hello, I hope you’re doing well. Through That Mutt and my partner company, Mighty Paw, we put together a list of what pet owners might consider during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are not veterinarians, and we recommend you follow the latest info from the American Veterinary Medical Association. If you have specific questions, call your dog’s vet.

Please add your own ideas in the comments and know that these are simply our opinions. Use common sense and follow the recommendations for your area.

This post was last updated by Lindsay on March 20, 2020.

Can dogs get Coronavirus?

You’ve probably heard that thankfully as of now there is no evidence that dogs or cats get sick from or carry COVID-19. Follow the American Veterinary Medical Association for the latest information. Today there are reports circulating about a second dog potentially testing positive in Hong Kong, but there is not a lot of information about this currently.

What dog owners should consider during the COVID-19 pandemic

dogs and COVID-19

Support your local animal shelter financially

Animal shelters need our help. Consider making a financial donation or call to ask what the most urgent needs are for supplies (such as cleaning supplies).

For good reason, shelters are likely limiting volunteers and staff right now and the existing workers will be feeling extra pressure to care for the growing number of dogs and cats. The animals are certainly feeling this stress as well.

Many shelters will still be open to adoptions. Some will be closed. Best to call in advance. For example, a humane society in my town is requesting that the public visit the shelter only if they plan to adopt. People are instructed to wait in their car and send only one family member in to complete the adoption.

Consider fostering a dog or cat if there is a need.

Consider volunteering to foster a dog or cat in your home for a few weeks if you’re able and if there is the need. Best to call and ask vs. email as there may not be as many volunteers available to respond to emails and Facebook posts.

Not all shelters will need foster homes. For example, my local shelter is currently doing its best to encourage as many adoptions as possible to “clear the shelter.” At the moment, it’s not looking for foster homes.

Continue to support pet-related businesses

If you normally use a dog walker, pet sitter or dog daycare, I recommend you cancel all appointments (for now) to decrease the spread of the virus. I say this as a former dog walker and do not take this lightly. It’s very important we all stay home right now.

You can continue to support dog walkers, pet sitters and dog daycares by:

  • pre-paying for future appointments
  • paying for regular service even if you cancel temporarily
  • buying their gift cards
  • leaving a tip
  • text or email to show appreciation
  • leave positive reviews

For example, I called the dog boarding facility I normally use and asked if I could pre-pay for my next 10 nights of boarding. I don’t know when I’ll use these, but I know I travel enough to need them eventually. I appreciate this business so much because they’re happy to feed my dog his raw diet AND they put up with his obnoxious play style!

How to support dog trainers

  • sign up for their online training classes and seminars
  • buy their books
  • share their blog articles
  • pre-pay for future classes
  • ask about online training sessions through Skype or Zoom

Support non-profit dog training clubs

To support your local dog agility club, nosework group, etc., consider making a donation to keep these organizations running while classes and trials are temporarily canceled. They still have bills to pay for things like rent, heating and supplies. If they don’t have a donate button on their website, email them and ask how you can help.

Should you cancel vet appointments?

Yes. Cancel all non-emergency vet appointments.

Some vets may be closed temporarily and others will be open. Go to the vet only for true emergencies at this time or to pick up urgent supplies. This precaution is to protect the veterinary staff members and others.

Appointments like vaccinations, heartworm tests and routine exams should wait for now. Non-urgent illnesses or mild injuries should also wait. If you’re not sure, call your vet to discuss.

If you have to go to the vet, call ahead and wait in your car until the staff is ready to see your pet vs. sitting in the waiting room area.

Stock up on pet food and medications

I recommend you have a month’s worth of food on hand for your pets as well as medications.

I bought a couple of week’s worth of prescription medication for my cat last week because he has kidney disease and I did not want him to be without if there ends up being a shortage.

My dog Remy normally gets frozen raw food delivered but I ordered two big bags of dry food to have on hand just in case deliveries stop or get delayed. You’ve probably noticed shipments are taking longer than usual, so plan on deliveries arriving 3 or 4 days later than normal.

That Mutt’s partner company Mighty Paw is still delivering through its website and Amazon as normal.

Pick up pet supplies and medications curbside

If you have to go to the pet store for food or litter or to your dog’s vet for supplies, call to ask if they will meet you curbside or if they will deliver.

Continue walking and training your dog

In the U.S., health experts are still saying it’s safe to go for a walk, run or hike. Thank goodness! Get out and walk your pup!

In addition to your usual walk, try to stick to as normal of a routine as you can. Obviously, our pets will be thrilled many of us are spending more time at home. However, dogs are also sensitive to our routines and they can get worried or stressed when we’re acting differently.

If your dog is bored from being cooped up, work on some obedience training, trick training or indoor games like “find it” where you hide treats or toys.

Tricks to teach your dog

Most of all, I hope you are all staying safe and that you are doing OK. I know times are stressful right now, so make sure to hug your dog!

Our dogs are ready to do their most important work of all: provide stress relief, comfort and a few laughs! Thank goodness for dogs!

How are things going for you in your part of the world? How is your dog?

Let us know in the comments.

Lindsay, That Mutt & Mighty Paw


Monday 30th of March 2020

Hi Lindsay,

I am an avid follower of thatmutt and am just writing to ask for advice. We are in England and so are now in a sort of lockdown scenario from last Tuesday- a week tomorrow. We are only allowed out to exercise once a day and I never break rules so am sticking to that, although feeling very frustrated with many dog owners we know who are not- I feel we are missing out for obeying the rules.

I am struggling to know what to do to help my dog- he is a middle aged rescued ex working sheepdog and he is very unhappy since these restrictions came in, I'm assuming because his life has been turned upside down. He was okay for the first few days and now is really struggling. (We do less at the weekends because I have Asperger's and can't cope with being around other people so we have quieter weekends than in the week because it gets too peopley where we walk at the weekends, so I think the first few days he just thought it was the weekend- he usually enjoys doing less walking and more relaxing at the weekends, but only for a couple of days) I am a dog walker (although not at the moment with all that's going on) and me and him are usually out for 7 plus hours every day- to now do one walk (albeit a long one) is a big change for us and not a positive one and neither of us are good with change! He is really happy when we are out on our walk, but in the house he is very unhappy and mopes about. We have a nice garden he can go in and have been trying to do more playing and a bit more training but Patch takes life very seriously at the best of times and isn't a happy go lucky type of dog or one that can adapt to change at all.

It seems to be affecting him physically, too- he has more grey bits in his hair from the last week alone and he is limping and panting more on our walks- it is thought he has arthritis but that doesn't usually bother him, but now we are doing less it seems to be affecting him more.

I have an elderly terrier who couldn't care less about not going out as much, but it is really impacting my sheepdog.

Does anyone have any suggestions of anything that could help him, or anyone have any similar experiences of dogs similar to mine?

I feel really sad that it is affecting him so much. I have had him for over 3 years and he's always loved every day, until the last week, and I feel like I'm letting him down and not giving him the life he needs :(

Thank you!

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 30th of March 2020

Hi Susie! I'm so sorry your dog is having a hard time with the adjustment.

I guess, here are a few things I would consider, for what it's worth:

1. Is he really feeling bad, or is he just lounging around "moping" because he's simply at home resting? Is it so bad that he's resting more, I mean? My dog Ace was naturally lower energy and one time I asked the vet if he thought my dog might be sick? The vet said, no, I think you just have a lower energy dog and this is just his normal behavior.

2. As you know, dogs are very sensitive to our own emotions so he may be reacting to your own feelings.

3. As you're already doing, I would play a few games and work on training with him. Maybe hiding some treats around the yard for "find it." Or teaching a new trick.

My dog Remy was acting naughtier last week, almost certainly due to being cooped up more. I made a point to work on training with him for just 10 mins each morning and then gave him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. This did seem to help, in addition to our walk. Thankfully we do not have any walking restrictions here. That must be so hard!

Here is an article my friend Barbara wrote about ideas to entertain our dogs during this time:

I hope things improve for you guys!

Barbara R.

Monday 30th of March 2020

That was really nice of you to go ahead and pre-pay for 10 nights of boarding!! One of my daily dog walking clients who's a teacher and has been home for the last 2 weeks, i.e. not needing my services, continues to pay me! Super nice of her!

I'll be starting to teach Wally how to crawl, thanks for the idea!


Thursday 26th of March 2020

I live in Yorkshire and was planning to go camping with my dog this year. So because of the present pandemic these plans have had to be put to one side for now. The main thing now is entertaining him at home. Saber is a cross GSD/Siberian Husky with tons of energy and before this we spent hours outside walking and running. The current partial lockdown is driving him crazy and me. But we all have to do our bit, even if it's only self isolating.

Michele Wheeler

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

Can dogs be a vector for transmitting the virus? For example, a person with the virus has it on their hands, pets your dog and the virus remains on their coat for a few days? For those of us who let pets on the couch, could the virus transfer? I realize there’s so much we don’t know. But any info on that?

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

I'm not sure but I would assume yes, for a few hours at least.

Julia P.

Sunday 22nd of March 2020

Thanks for sharing this post. A lot of important considerations. I think a lot of dogs will be enjoying some extra time with their people. I hope that you are staying safe.