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 that typically use therapy animals may not allow them at this time because people in many of these settings are at higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Follow local guidance and facility protocols for social distancing, masks, and other ways to prevent COVID-19

from spreading. If therapy animals are invited to a facility or other setting, follow the steps below. 

  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. 
  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 it is safe to visit a household, refer to CDC guidance on People with COVID-19 Symptoms should not touch, be close to, or interact with therapy animals. If someone was sick with COVID-19, they should wait until they are fully recovered to interact with therapy animals. 
  4. Before and after every contact, the handler and anyone petting or having contact with the animal should wash their hands. 
  5. Do not use items that multiple people handle, particularly if things are brought to various facilities between therapy visits (such as leashes, harnesses, toys, or blankets). If items like leashes must be brought between facilities, always disinfect them after each use or facility. 
  6. Do not let other people handle items that go into the animal’s mouth, such as toys and treats. 
  7. Disinfect 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, or other products, such as hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. There is no evidence 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. 

Other tips to keep your dog safe: 

Do not wipe or bathe service animals with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other products not approved for animal use. There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. 

Do not put face coverings on service animals. Covering an animal’s face could harm them. 

Do ask clients to wash hands before and after touching your facility dog- as much as possible. 

Do limit staff interaction with Facility Dogs ( if they are interacting, please make sure they are following the same protocol as client interaction) 

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