As dog owners, we do not have the luxury of staying completely indoors during the COVID-19 crisis. Whether you have a yard or need to take your pooch out to walk on city streets, it is likely you’re going outside more than the average person.
But still, staying inside most of the day, every single day for weeks on end, can fuel anxiety, depression, and feelings of being cooped up.
We know that the coronavirus is hyper contagious and that it’s our responsibility to stay as far away from other people as possible to help “flatten the curve” and slow down the viruses’ rate of infection. But remaining sedentary inside 24/7 isn’t doing your health or immune system any favors.
“Exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system,” according to literature from Harvard Medical School. “It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.”
So where is the healthy medium? There are ways to get some much-needed outdoor time with your dog and still keep yourself and others as safe as possible. While it’s important to follow your local government’s guidelines, here are a few general tips:
- Don’t travel. We aren’t suggesting you take a vacation! It’s important to stay as close to your home as possible.
- Keep your distance. The 6-foot rule is imperative: don’t walk in groups and stay away from other people who may cross your path.
- Consider your circumstances. If you live in a congested city, your behavior will need to be much different from someone who lives in a rural neighborhood.
- Don’t do anything dangerous. Now is not the time to go rock climbing or hiking in treacherous areas. Hospitals are already overcrowded and the last thing they need is you showing up with a broken ankle!
- Take a drive. Driving around with your windows open is a great way to get some fresh air without exposing yourself to other people. If your dog likes car rides, bring them along!
- Sanitize. Keep your home and car as clean as possible with disinfectants, wash your hands before leaving and immediately after coming home, and bring along some hand sanitizer whenever you go outside. And don’t forget to keep your dogs’ leash, harness and collars clean! Throw them in the wash after each walk- the soap will dissolve the lipid layer surrounding the virus.
- If your dog joins you outside, give them a few extra baths and don’t let anyone outside pet them. As cute as your pooch is, it’s not worth potentially exposing yourself or your pet to an infected individual.
Most of all: stay safe and don’t take unnecessary risks! Only go outside if you can securely do so. As tempting as it is to enjoy the spring weather, your health and the health of others is paramount.
For more information on the effects of quarantine on mental health, please click the following link.
For more information on how exercise can boost your immunities, please click the following link.