10 safety tips for Service and therapy dogs with COVID-19

10 steps to keeping a therapy dog safe with Covid-19

10 Steps to Keeping a Therapy Dog Safe with Covid-19

Agencies like Extra Special Parents, nursing homes, physical therapy clinics, and other settings that typically use therapy animals may not allow them at this time. People in many of these settings are at higher risk for severe illness and COVID-19. Animal research has shown that dogs and cats are susceptible to catching the virus that causes COVID-19.

Follow local guidance and facility protocols for social distancing, masks, and other ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading between humans, pets, and service dogs.

If therapy animals are invited to a facility, follow the steps below to keep them safe:

  1. Therapy animal visits require some level of contact between clients and the therapy animal team. When possible, keep animals at least 6 feet away from people and animals not participating in the visit. Handlers and participants should wear a mask during the visit. Public access to interacting with the animal should be prohibited.
  2. Do not take therapy animals to visits if the animals are sick or have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. 
  3. When deciding if visiting a household or facility is safe, refer to CDC guidance. Pet partners should not allow people with COVID-19 symptoms to touch, be close to, or interact with therapy animals. If someone was sick with COVID-19, they should wait until they fully recover to interact with therapy animals. 
  4. The handler and anyone petting or having contact with the animal should wash their hands before and after interacting with the assistance dogs. 
  5. Do not use items multiple people handle, particularly if things are brought to various facilities between therapy visits (such as leashes, harnesses, dog toys, or blankets). If these items must be brought between facilities, always disinfect them after each animal use and on a daily basis. 
  6. Only allow the professionally trained therapy team to handle items that go into the animal's mouth, such as dog toys and treats.
  7. Disinfect animal care items such as toys, collars, leashes, harnesses, therapy vests and scarves, and food/water bowls. 
  8. Do not allow therapy animals to lick or give 'kisses.' 
  9. Do not wipe or bathe your therapy animal with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. There is no evidence from animal studies that the virus can spread to people from animals' skin, fur, or hair.​​ Talk to your veterinarian​ if you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your animal​​. 
  10. Do not put masks on therapy animals. Covering an animal's face could harm the animal. 


Facility dogs work hard to provide pet therapy to clients of all different backgrounds. It is important for their safety to be a priority.

Fill out our web form