By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — As Massachusetts continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the public has plenty of questions. Dr. Mallika Marshall answered some of those sent to her email (drmallika@cbs.com) and Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Is it safe to have your dogs groomed if the groomer herself doesn’t wear a mask while performing the service? – Tracey

Just like us, dogs have gotten pretty shaggy during the pandemic and many owners have resorted to groomer their own dogs with varying success. In fact, my daughter gave our dog a mohawk and he’s never been the same.  It’s unlikely a pet will transmit the virus to a human. The biggest risk is the person-to-person interaction. So many groomers are telling owners to stay in the car with a mask on while the groomers come out to get the dogs with their own leashes. And as always, when you get home with your dog, wash your hands.

I am 76 years old and healthy. How dangerous is it to go to the dentist for an exam and cleaning? – Marie

Many dental procedures, including routine cleanings, can release respiratory droplets into the air, putting others at risk, especially the dentists and hygienists.  But dental practices are taking precautions to protect their staff and their patients like limiting the number of appointments, wearing protective equipment, cleaning rooms thoroughly between patients. That said, if you’re in a high-risk category and you don’t have an urgent dental issue, you may want to postpone your appointment. Call your dentist or your primary care doctor to help you weigh the pros and cons.

With everyone disinfecting and killing 99.9% of all germs by washing everything with every disinfectant they can get their hands on, are we weakening our immune system for future illness? – Carolyn

You’re referring to the hygiene hypothesis that suggests that living in an overly clean environment does not allow exposure to germs to help build a robust immune system, especially in kids. Unfortunately, right now, we’re faced with a potentially deadly germ that is completely foreign to our immune systems, so we need to rely on disinfecting and cleaning to help keep us safe. We’ll be able to let up once a vaccine becomes available but until then, we really have no choice.

My automobile is kind of dirty. What do I need to wear when I wash my car? – John

First, I would wear pants. But other than that, if you’re washing your own car outside alone without others around, you don’t need to wear a mask. If you’re around other people who don’t live with you, wear a mask. And when you’re done washing your car, wash your hands.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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