The WHO declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic in early March of 2020. During the ensuing worry about the virus’s spread, people began to worry not only about their health but also the health of their dogs and other pets.
The CDC stated that there isn’t evidence showing the pets play a role in spreading the novel virus, but it’s important to clarify what is currently known about it and answer the question that’s on dog owners’ minds: can your dog get covid?
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The Canine Coronavirus
We already know that dogs are susceptible to coronaviruses, like the canine respiratory coronavirus (which is not COVID-19). The novel coronavirus isn’t believed to be a threat to dogs’ health.
In a May 2021 report, there was a small number of patients in a Malaysian hospital with canine coronavirus. That virus was not the same one that causes COVID-19. That report showed correlation, not causation, in those patients, and the canine virus does not seem to pose a threat to human health.
Can Your Dog Contract the Novel Coronavirus?
While we don’t believe that COVID-19 is a threat to dogs, they can test positive for it. There was a pug (Winston) that tested positive for the virus in North Carolina, however, after more examination, the test’s results didn’t meet the definition for a positive, and the subsequent testing showed up negative. Three family members in the home tested positive, which is likely why the virus was present in the dog—It’s not believed that they contracted it from the Pug.
Later, two dogs in Hong Kong showed positive results for a COVID-19 test, and they both lived with owners who tested positive. The local health officials declared that the humans transmitted the coronavirus to their pets, not the other way around, and neither dog showed signs of illness after testing positive.
Health officials in Hong Kong stated that their findings show that dogs and cats do not easily contract the virus, and there isn’t any evidence showing that they play a role in spreading it, either.
Do Dogs Spread Covid?
There isn’t any evidence to suggest that dogs, cats, or other pets can spread COVID-19. The virus is mainly spread by the droplets produced when someone that is sick coughs, speaks, or sneezes. The CDC states that, even though the virus may have emerged from an animal source, it predominantly spreads person-to-person. Because of how it spreads, they say that there isn’t any reason to believe that pets or wildlife in the US are a source of infection of the novel virus.
Even though we haven’t seen illness in pets that do contract COVID-19, the CDC still recommends avoiding contact with your animals if you tested positive to be on the safe side.
How to Protect Your Dog From COVID-19
Healthy pet owners should simply continue to follow the basic recommended hygienic precautions like washing their hands well before and after handling any animal, including cats and dogs. However, if you contract COVID-19 or think you’ve been exposed to it, the CDC offers some guidelines for pet care during that time:
- When it’s possible, have another household member care for your pets while you’re sick.
- Avoid contact with your pets as much as you can, including snuggling, petting, licking, and sharing bedding or food.
- If there’s no one to care for your dog while you’re sick, wash your hands before and after interacting with them and wear a face covering.
To help reduce the chances of spreading germs, including COVID-19, you can also wipe down your pet’s feet and fur when they enter or leave the house using grooming wipes. Dogs do not need to wear any type of face covering to protect them against the virus.
Also, we’ve seen reports of people abandoning their pets over COVID-19 concerns—don’t do this! There’s no evidence showing that any pet poses a danger to their humans during the pandemic.
Can I Still Pet My Dog?
Per the AVMA, there is very little risk in petting your dog. The organization’s Chief Officer, Gail Golab, said that they’re not concerned about humans contracting the virus through interactions with cats and dogs. And the science agrees—Covid survives the best on smooth surfaces like doorknobs and countertops. Pet fur is porous, and it tends to trap and absorb the pathogens, making it more difficult to contract through touch.
AKC’s Chief Officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, urges people to use common sense when it comes to their dogs. For example, you wouldn’t let your child touch a puppy and process to put their fingers in their mouth. Generally, you want to wash your hands after interacting with your pets as a normal hygiene practice.
The CDC offers two guidelines for interacting with your pets during the pandemic:
- Don’t let your pets interact with people or animals outside of your household.
- Keep your cats indoors as much as possible to prevent them from interacting with other people and animals.
Related: Why Dogs Love to Be Petted
Can I Still Walk My Dog?
Mental and physical exercise are extremely important for your dog. As long as your area allows it, you should continue walking your dog daily and follow these two CDC recommended guidelines:
- Walk your dogs on their leash and maintain a six-foot distance from other animals and people.
- Avoid walking them in public places or dog parks where large numbers of other dogs and people gather.
Walk them in uncrowded areas, and try to keep distance between your dog and other animals and people. Luckily, the average leashes are six feet long, so you can use it as a built-in measure to keep a safe distance. Also, don’t let others pet or play with your dog while you’re out walking.
Does My Dog Need a COVID-19 Test?
According to the USDA, you don’t need to test your dog for the virus. If other animals begin getting confirmed positive for the Covid in the US, the USDA will report these findings and alter their stance on animal testing. For now, they do not recommend the testing of pets or other animals.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s health, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian.
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