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Dog Walking and Coronavirus

Dog Walking and Coronavirus

Coronavirus Update - May 2020

NarpsUK has today been provided with guidance from the Canine and Feline Sector Group which has been written with DEFRA, who have provided an updated document to assist animal businesses to operate in a safe manner to protect the health of their staff and clients. The relevant sections have been copied below, or you can view the full document on the CFSG website - http://www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/  this is also where you can find the Handover Protocol.

 

COVID-19 – ADVICE FOR ANIMAL RELATED BUSINESSES AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN ENGLAND

11th May 2020 (This guidance is subject to change depending on Government advice)

Introduction

This guidance has been updated in the light of revised Government advice (11.5.20) on Coronavirus to balance public health protection requirements and the need for businesses to keep working. There remains no evidence that pets are implicated in the transmission of Coronavirus to people and infection of the pet is unlikely, but that there is some risk of virus being carried by pets and their belongings. However the risk of transmission between infected clients and business staff remains and the disease status of the client, if known, will assist in risk assessment.

The status of a household is an important element of risk assessment. Clearly contact with an infected or self-isolating household carries a higher risk than with any other. The risk to the household of shielding or vulnerable people is greater and therefore requires more precautions. Because there is some possibility of the pet carrying virus between households it is appropriate to evaluate the risk in each circumstance to minimise the public health consequences. It is inevitable that the status of a household can change from one group to another and that the precautions suitable for the pet will change at the same time.

The simple precaution of washing hands for twenty seconds as frequently as possible should now be intrinsic in every activity. In this advice document it is assumed that hand washing and social distancing are intrinsic in all activities.

CFSG has produced a handover protocol between people walking friends’ and neighbours’ dogs. The protocol should also be used when handing over dogs between a business and client.

Where it is recommended that a pet is wiped down the cloth used should be disposable and similar to the size and material of a J-cloth. It should be thoroughly wetted and squeezed first, used to wipe down the pet and should then disposed of directly into a waste bin. Do not re-use the cloth. You should not use any disinfectant.

Social distancing rules must be observed throughout every activity. This is a 2 metre distance between each individual. If at all possible, and if it is safe to do so, any handovers should be done outside. Risk assessments need to be undertaken to ensure the business is working in a safe way to protect members of staff and the public. The principles have been set out by government here.

Guidance on which journeys are appropriate is taken from UK Government Guidance on Social Distancing published 11.5.20.

In all circumstances where payment is included in a process the use of cash should be avoided. Where possible payment should be made using a credit or debit card or by electronic banking. You should check that your insurance company is prepared to cover you for any activity undertaken during this period.

BOARDING ESTABLISHMENTS

Most boarding establishments will have very low occupancy rates owing to cancelled holidays, however there is a significant requirement to care for the pets of people hospitalised from coronavirus and for key workers, shielded and vulnerable people who may not be able to care for their pets. Boarding establishments may make arrangements with shelters and rescues if needed. Pets should only be admitted or sent home by appointment to ensure you only have a single client on the premises at any one time. Animals being collected or taken by their owner to the boarding establishment may well be carrying the virus on their coat, or on belongings such as leads. The handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads. Any material such as collars, toys and food bowls arriving with an animal should be thoroughly washed with soap and water and left to dry in the open air. Handover should take place in a room or space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance. Pets should be wiped down with a pet safe disposable damp cloth which should be disposed of properly afterwards before they are put into the collecting vehicle or admitted.

If an animal is taken from a Coronavirus infected household they should be held in the establishment’s isolation facility for three days to ensure no virus is retained on the pet. During that period those pets should be dealt with after all others on the premises.

Animal rescue and re-homing organisations may also be under pressure from animals being abandoned and particularly if they have a stray dog contract with the local authority. Boarding establishments may also wish to offer space to them.

Clearly a proportion of any of those animals may not have up to date vaccinations. Veterinary practices may be able to offer vaccination if a disease and public health assessment by the vet shows it to be appropriate and social distancing can be maintained. The boarding establishment’s veterinary practice should be contacted for advice regarding this. If, on assessment, the veterinary practice feels vaccination is appropriate, it may be that the risk of a visit by a vet and veterinary nurse is considered less of a public health risk than individual animals being taken to the owner’s practice. It is important to increase biosecurity within the boarding establishment to reduce the likelihood of disease. This may be achieved by increased use of disinfectant, personal hygiene by the use of hand gel or hand washing between animals and by better separation of animals. Establishments should be able to provide an enhanced SOP for use in current circumstances to satisfy their local licensing authority.

HOME BOARDING

Similar to boarding establishments it is likely that most will be little used. Priority should be given to board dogs from households of key workers, or shielded and vulnerable people. Dogs from infected or self-isolating households should not be mixed with others from non-infected households. The handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed.

All admission and return of dogs should be by appointment only to ensure clients are able to maintain social distance. The home boarder may collect the dog or the client may drop off and collect the dog. You should only have one person dropping off or collecting their dog at a time. If the dog is collected they should be wiped down with a pet safe disposable damp cloth which should be disposed of properly afterwards before putting them in the vehicle and the owner retaining all equipment such as leads. When the dog is dropped off at their home it should be wiped down  before entering the house. The home boarder must wash all equipment with soap and water once the dog/s have left. The owner’s lead should be retained by them. Dogs should be walked on a lead locally, maintaining social distance from other people and pets.

COMMERCIAL DOG DAY CARE

Commercial day care may continue to operate and priority should be given for key workers, and shielded and vulnerable people who are unable to make alternative safe arrangements for their dog. Dogs may be collected from their home or owners may drop off and collect their dogs by appointment only. This is to ensure clients are able to maintain their social distance from others by only having one client on the premises at a time. If dogs are brought to site owners should remain in their vehicles until staff are ready to accept their dog with a similar procedure on return.

Handover should take place in a room or space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance. The handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the operator wiping the dog down with a pet safe disposable damp cloth which should be disposed of properly afterwards before putting them in the vehicle and the owner retaining all equipment such as leads.

If dogs are collected, only those from households that are not infected or self-isolating should be collected on each trip. If establishments wish to accept dogs from infected or self-isolating households they must be collected and returned separately. Such dogs should not be mixed with those from ‘clear’ households but may be kept in a completely separate group. Each dog should be wiped down with a disposable pet safe cloth on arrival which should be disposed of properly afterwards. The vehicle must be disinfected between journey if transporting dogs from infected or self-isolating households.

The entire premises must be cleaned and disinfected at the close of each day.

HOME DOG DAY CARE

Home day care may continue to operate and priority should be given for key workers who are unable to make alternative safe arrangements for their dog. Dogs may be collected from their homes or owners may drop off and collect their dogs by appointment to ensure the maintenance of social distance between clients by only having one client on the premises at a time. The handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the operator wiping the dog down with a pet safe disposable damp cloth which should be disposed of properly afterwards before putting them in the vehicle or taking the dog into the house. The owner should retain all equipment such as leads.

Dogs from households that are infected or self-isolating should not be mixed with others from non-infected households.

Handover should take place in a room or space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance.

Dogs should be walked on a lead locally, maintaining social distance from other people and pets, and not transported in a vehicle to exercise unless absolutely necessary.

DOG WALKERS

Dog walkers can continue to operate and priority should be given to key workers, and shielded and vulnerable people who are unable to make alternative safe arrangements for their dog. Dogs from coronavirus infected or self-isolating households may be walked but if doing so they must be walked after dogs from all other households.

The handover protocol set out by CFSG should be followed with the owner retaining all equipment such as leads. Handover should take place in a room or space large enough for the client and staff to maintain their social distance. Dogs from different households may be walked together as long as dogs from infected or self-isolating households are not mixed with others from non-infected households. Social distancing should be maintained for both the walker and the dogs by keeping the dogs on a lead at all times. Any equipment, including the vehicle if used to transport the dog, must be cleaned and disinfected between dogs.

15 Things To Do For Your Business During Lockdown

15 Things To Do For Your Business During Lockdown

Identifying and Alleviating Separation Anxiety in Dogs

By Karoline Gore

10% of British dogs experience separation anxiety during their lifetime, according to a leading pet insurer. However, many owners fail to recognise this condition in their pet dog and merely think their dog is making a fuss. But, with separation anxiety capable of causing severe distress in a dog, it’s essential you can identify the symptoms of it so that you can let your clients know that they need to take action to alleviate your pet’s fears.

Noticeable signs

If the dog incessantly barks when you leave home and is still barking when you arrive, then there’s a good possibility the dog is distressed and is experiencing separation anxiety. Other noticeable signs include destruction in the home. Broken furniture and damaged toys are a sign that the dog has anxiety. Meanwhile, if nervous behaviour restarts every time you put on your shoes and coat and pick up your keys, then you can be sure that the dog isn’t happy about being left home alone.

Keeping The Dog Entertained

Once you’ve determined that a dog has got separation anxiety, you can suggest some action to make his days more comfortable. Plenty of stimulation and exercise is crucial. Experts state that the average adult dog requires a 30 - 60 minute walk every day. So, recommend the owner walking him or playing with him before they go to work, and then your carrying out another walk around lunch. This will break up his day and provide him with some much-needed socialisation. You should also ensure they have a good supply of dog toys to keep your dog entertained when he’s home alone. Toys will keep their dog entertained and they also provide the opportunity for some fun and games once you as a pet sitter arrives. You can also suggest a second visit if you feel it is required, to minimise the amount of time he is alone.

Leave on a high

A dog’s fear of being left home alone is often made worse by owners and pet sitters making a big fuss of them before they leave. So, it’s best to calmy and quietly get ready to go and to minimize the contact with the pooch before you leave. But to ensure the dog doesn’t get beside himself as you’re leaving, distract him with a treat or a toy beofre you go.

It can be devastating to think of any dog experiencing separation anxiety each and every time he is left. Thankfully, with the use of a pet sitter or dog walker, you can start to alleviate his fears through your services.

Winter Pet Care Tips for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Walk Safety

  • Think about wearing fluorescent or reflective clothing if you are walking in harsh conditions to prevent accidents and to alert other people that you are there.
  • If you have extreme weather where you feel walking would not be safe, offer a pop in service instead.
  • Keep dogs away from ponds and lakes which may be iced over. If the ice breaks under the weight of the dog, this could be fatal.
  • Keep any dogs on leads in the snow. Snow can be disorientating for dogs so they can become lost more easily.
  • Think about your own footwear to minimize the risk of trips and slips and to ensure you have good control of the dog.

Keeping the Dog Warm

  • Let your dog’s coat grow in the winter to help keep them warm. For short haired dogs, elderly dogs or puppies, there are lots of jumpers and coats available for pets which can help to keep them warm. Suggest to the dog’s owner that this is something they need to invest in if you feel their pet would benefit from this.
  • Let the dog get used to a new coat before it wears it for a walk by trying it on indoors and using treats. Once the dog is used to wearing it, you can start using it outside.
  • Keep blankets and towels in your vehicle so that you can dry the dog off thoroughly once the walk is over.

Dog Health

  • Look out for the dog’s paws becoming lodged with snow or ice which can be painful for dogs, and ensure that after walking in areas that may have been treated with rock salt, you wash the dog’s paws to remove any as this can irritate their skin and be poisonous.
  • Ensure that the dog’s hair is trimmed along their underside to avoid it becoming excessively wet if there is enough snow to reach this.
  • Never leave a dog in a car during extreme weather, hot or cold.
  • Antifreeze is very poisonous to dogs, so if there are any spillages, ensure they are cleaned up thoroughly.
  • Take extra care if the dog has arthritis as the cold weather can worsen this.

Alternatives to Walking

  • In extreme cold weather, shorten walks as you would in the summer, so that the dog is not exposed to the cold weather for long periods of time.
  • You can offer a pop in service instead where you would play with the dog in the garden or indoors for half an hour to an hour so that they are still being exercised but avoid the cold as much as possible.
  • Change your route to a route which may avoid the snow. For example if you normally walk in a field where snow may be thicker, consider walking in a shady wooded area where there may be less snow on the ground, or around streets which may have been gritted.

If you feel that walking a dog would be dangerous, let the owner know with as much notice as possible that you may not be able to provide a service on that day. If there is very extreme weather, there is a good chance that the owner of the dog will also not be working, or working from home, so they may be able to exercise their dog themselves.

 

 

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