Q&A with Veterinarian Dr. J.J. Rawlinson of Annenberg PetSpace
By Shanee Edwards
Maintaining our own health and that of our family during the COVID-19 pandemic (also known as the coronavirus) is of paramount importance. But what if you consider your dog as a family member? Here in Playa Vista many of us consider our four-legged friends our fur babies, and in this uncertain time, we want to keep them safe, too. We reached out to veterinarian, Dr. J.J. Rawlinson, Senior Manager, Community Partnerships and Welfare Initiatives at the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, for her expert advice.
1. Is it possible for my dog to get COVID-19 virus?
At this time, there is no evidence that dogs or cats can get the COVID-19 virus. There is a type of Corona virus that dogs get that causes an intestinal disease, but the viruses are unrelated.
2. If I get COVID-19 from an infected person or the community, is my healthy dog okay to stay at home with me?
If you are ill with COVID-19, it is recommended that someone else care for your pet. Though there is no evidence that pets can become ill with this virus, it is out of an abundance of caution to find an alternate person to care for your pet so that you can focus entirely on your recovery.
3. What precautions should I take for my dog in terms of food and supplies if I get COVID-19?
There is no indication that there will be a shortage of human or dog food. Just like for yourself, the general recommendation for pets is you should have enough food and medication on hand for two weeks.
4. If I get COVID-19 and my dog needs to go to the veterinarian, what should I do?
You should call your veterinarian first so that the vet and their staff will triage your dog’s needs with you. There are many creative ways (e.g. mobile house-call veterinary teams, telemedicine) of getting your dog the care they need without you having to go to the hospital and can maintain the recommended distance from others.
5. Both my dog and I are currently healthy, is it safe to go to the dog park?
If you’re healthy, continue going for on-leash walks with your dog. Try to take them in lightly occupied areas with plenty of space to practice social distancing.
6. Is it safe to have a dog-walking service walk my dog?
Be sure to follow the latest guidelines of the Safer-At-Home order, but as long as it is permitted by local officials then yes. Those who provide commercial dog-walking services should make sure that both owner and dog are healthy, to maintain distance at the hand-off and wash their hands thoroughly between and after outings.
The Annenberg PetSpace is temporarily closed to the public, but you can check their website for updates (annenbergpetspace.org). If you’d like to help animals in need in Los Angeles or foster a pet, contact LA Animal Services (laanimalservices.com) or Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control (animalcare.lacounty.gov) for more info.