How to keep you, your dogs, and your puppy buyers safe during COVID-19

Learn what steps can you take as a dog breeder to stay safe during COVID-19

by Dr. Judi Stella, PhD - Head of Standards & Research at Good Dog

During these trying times we want to assure our Good Breeder community that we are here to support you. Together we will all get through this while ensuring that our dogs are healthy and happy!

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is primarily transmitted person-person when a healthy person comes into contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions (e.g saliva, mucus). Transmission can also occur if you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Smooth, non-porous surfaces such as countertops, door knobs, and cell phones are better at transmitting the virus than porous, fibrous materials. This is because the virus gets trapped in fibrous materials, decreasing transmission through touch. There is no evidence at this time that dogs or any other companion animal can transmit the virus or are a source of infection.

Conditions impacting safe transport during the pandemic will vary according to the severity of the epidemic in different locations or geographic regions of the country, whether you are traveling to an urban, suburban, or rural area, as well as the age and health condition of the buyers and breeders involved.

We want to stress that conditions are changing rapidly as the pandemic continues to evolve and grow. Be sure to consult all federal, state, and local laws and the latest recommendations of health officials prior to making any transport decisions. Staying healthy and stopping the spread of COVID-19 should be everyone’s number one priority. If transport cannot be done safely, strongly consider delaying to a later date. We will continue to provide you with the most updated and accurate information we can.

What should I do to decrease my risk of contracting COVID-19?

1. Wash your hands.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is easily killed by washing your hands for 20 seconds using regular soap and water. If you can’t wash with soap and water, hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol is also effective. Be sure to use paper towels to turn off faucets and to open doors. Sanitize your hands before eating, after touching objects touched by other people, and before touching other people's things.

Tips: Get into hand-washing routines so you wash your hands every time you come inside, every time you go outside, before you cook, before you eat, after touching something that has been touched by someone else, etc. Sing songs to make sure you hit 20 seconds.

2. Don’t touch your face.

The virus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted from a contaminated surface to your hands, entering your body through contact with the mucous membranes of your nose, eyes, and mouth when you touch them, infecting you. So, don't touch your face unless you have just washed or disinfected your hands.

3. Disinfect all objects you touch.

Disinfect any objects or surfaces touched by another person including railings, door knobs, light switches, gas pumps, tables, chairs, computers, phones, and any object passed to you such as credit cards. The virus can survive on surfaces from several hours up to several days in some circumstances. Touching contaminated surfaces and then your face or food can lead to infection through secondary transmission routes. Smooth surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs transmit the virus more easily than porous materials like clothes, paper money, napkins and pet fur.

Most cleaning products will effectively eliminate the virus including Windex, Clorox, and Lysol. A complete list of effective products that kill the virus can be found in this list from the EPA.

Tips: Learn more about how to properly clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces (and the difference between the three) with this guide from the CDC.

4. Practice social distancing.

Where possible stay at home, work from home, and limit trips into public places to gathering necessary supplies. When in public, maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others when in grocery stores, pharmacies, waiting in lines, or when at the park. Avoid dog parks and any public gatherings.

Recent studies of respiratory pathogen transmission through the air have indicated the potential for the virus to be projected up to 27 feet in a cough or sneeze. This, coupled with the significant portion of individuals who are carrying the disease but do not have any symptoms (asymptomatic individuals), has led to new guidance from the CDC encouraging people to wear a cloth face mask or scarf over their mouth and nose when in public to limit exposure to the virus, especially those at high risk and those in densely-populated areas or other areas of significant community-based transmission. It's important to note the CDC is not encouraging the use of surgical masks as these are critical for our healthcare workers and are in short-supply.

5. If you feel sick, stay home and self-isolate.

If you feel sick or are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 that include prolonged coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, loss of sense of smell or taste or any other flu-like symptoms, immediately self-isolate by discontinuing all contact with any other people, including everyone in your house. If you do need to be in contact, limit the time to the minimum required to carry-out basic self-care activities, wear a mask, cover your face when you cough or sneeze (because the virus lives in droplets we cough and sneeze out), rest, hydrate, and call your doctor.

The current guidance is to call your doctor if you think you may have COVID-19 (and not show up at your doctor's office without contacting them first). It is imperative to minimize exposure to other people to decrease the risk of infecting others. However, if your symptoms are severe or you are in a high risk group, it’s essential that you consult with a doctor. Please consult the CDC’s What To Do if You Are Sick for the most current information and guidance. A self-checker application is included to aid you in determining the best course of action.

How can I minimize my dog's exposure to COVID-19?

At this time there is no indication that dogs or any other animal can become infected or transmit the virus that causes COVID-19 to people. “If somebody is sick and coughing all over their dog is there a chance that dog is going to bring something in? Probably, but all the research has shown so far that dogs are safe. No one has said dogs can give it to people. So wash your hands and don’t touch your face.” says Dr. Brian Greenfield, veterinarian at Animal Clinic Northview. However, due to the severity of the disease precautions are warranted.

1. Practice social distancing with your dog.

While no cases have been documented where a person has been infected from touching their dog, it may be possible that if an infected person coughed or sneezed on your dog you could be infected by touching their fur and then your face, mouth, eyes, or nose. Therefore, it is best to keep your dog at least 6 feet away from other people and dogs when out walking. Wash your hands with soap and water after coming in from walking your dog and sanitize with hand sanitizer after touching door handles, lids to poop cans, gates to exercise yards or dog runs, and any other surface or object you touch while out on your walk.

2. Wash your dog.

There is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted from your dog's fur to you so there is no indication that frequent bathing of your dog is necessary. However, if you think your dog may have been in contact with people who are infected or surfaces that are contaminated and you decide to exercise extra caution and bathe your dog, there are some things to consider. Soap and water are effective in killing the virus so regular dog shampoo is best but human shampoo and some dish soap (for example, Dawn) are also effective.

When bathing the dog you want to avoid being splashed in the face. Use low water pressure when wetting or rinsing the dog, prevent them from slipping or struggling and splashing water into your face to the extent possible, place a rubber mat in the bottom of the tub to prevent slipping or bathe them outside. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and cover your face and mouth with a bandanna, wear eye protection such as glasses or goggles. When finished, clean the bath area (tub, shower, and bathroom) thoroughly with disinfectant, wash all towels and the clothes you were wearing and shower or wash your arms and hands well with soap and water.

Tip: When bathing your dog, wet their head after you've bathed the rest of the dog since dogs usually don't shake until their head gets wet. Leave the head for last then put a towel over them before they shake, limiting the spray.

If you cannot bathe your dog wiping your dog with washcloth or spray of accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP) (for example, Rescue, Virox), while less effective, is another option. AHP typically needs to be diluted (1:128 dilution is recommended) so be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Do not use hand sanitizer or other types of disinfectants as they are likely to cause irritation and may be poisonous if ingested or licked off.

3. Clean everything frequently.

This includes washing your dogs bedding, collar, leash, toys, carrier or crate, food and water bowls and anything else they typically come into contact with using soap and water or an effective disinfectant.

What safety precautions can you and your puppy buyers take when transporting pups to their new owners?

Since the virus that can live on surfaces and then be transmitted to humans, it’s critical to follow three important rules when transporting dogs.

1. Take safety procedures prior to departure.

Everything (including the dog) should be cleaned immediately before departure from your home to minimize the risk of the virus being on a surface that is being transported to the new owners.

2. Take safety precautions during transit.

Precautions should be taken throughout transport to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus during transit.

3. Take safety precautions upon arrival.

Everything (including the dog) should be cleaned immediately upon the puppy’s arrival to their new owners to minimize the risk of the virus being on a surface that is being received by the new owners.

*It's important to note that if you, your puppy buyer, or anyone in either of your household's is feeling sick, you should postpone transport.

Safety precautions prior to departure (for breeders):

Conduct all communications with the buyer prior to the day of pickup to minimize time spent in person. Use video chats or phone calls to answer all questions and communicate all the necessary information before the go-home day. Send all documents and records ahead of time, and secure payment ahead of time if possible as well. We recommend that you limit the items that accompany the puppy to the new home. Have the new owner purchase a collar, leash, beds, toys, bowls, food, and any other supplies they will need. As a Good Breeder, you also have free access to Avidog's online Puppy Send-Off class, which covers how to use social media, email, online paperwork transfer, and other tips for a successful virtual puppy send-off.

On the day of transport or pickup, bathe the puppy immediately prior to pickup or transport, then dry them thoroughly and place them in a crate that has been disinfected and contains clean, disposable bedding such as recycled newspaper. When possible, wash them outside and do not bring them back into the house. If there are items that must accompany the puppy such as medications or special food, be sure to disinfect the outside of all bags or containers with disinfectant wipes. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to send anything with the mom’s or littermates’ scents on it. Do not touch anything going with the puppy unless you have sanitized your hands first.

Safety precautions during puppy pickup or dropoff:

If your new owners are coming to your house to pick up their puppies, we recommend that you schedule pick-ups far enough apart from each other to ensure no overlap between puppy buyers. Minimize the length of time of the pickup by having all communications ahead of time, sending documents and records ahead of time, and having everything ready to go including the clean puppy in the clean crate (be sure to disinfect the handle after placing outside).

Whether the puppy is being picked up by the owner or dropped off by the breeder, complete all transactions outside your house. Practice social distancing. Stay as far apart as possible but at least 6 feet apart and do not make any physical contact, including handshakes, with the new owners. Have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available for the puppy buyer.

Safety precautions during transit (for breeders and puppy buyers):

If you are driving the puppy to their new home, prep your car. Disinfect all door handles, the inside of the doors, the dashboard, the gear shifts, the cupholders, the steering wheel, the seatbelts and seatbelt handles. Lay a freshly laundered blanket in your car for your puppy’s carrying case to sit on top off. DO NOT touch anything in your car again unless you have sanitized your hands first. Sanitize your hands immediately prior to leaving your house. If possible, do not touch anything in your house after washing them or using hand sanitizer prior to touching the crate or anything in your car. (Use a paper towel to open the door.)

Bring hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you. If possible, do not make any stops during the journey, but if you do need to stop, be sure to sanitize your hands and anything you touch before you get back into your car. DO NOT touch the puppy or anything in contact with them if at all possible.

Tip: Be particularly careful about touching something like a gas pump and then touching your car door handle or credit card as the virus could be present on these surfaces.

For the latest information on transportation guidance and options, see our guide to transportation during COVID-19.

If you have any questions or need any help with transportation, please reach out to anytime and one of our breeder specialists will be on hand to help you.