As news of COVID-19 dominates the media, some pet parents have begun to worry about coronavirus in dogs.
Can your dog get infected? Can animals infect humans? What should you do to keep both your pup and yourself safe and healthy?
To help clear up the uncertainty and put your mind at ease, we’ve assembled the latest findings and recommendations from leading health organizations below.
Note: We will continue to update this post as necessary.
Can dogs get coronavirus (COVID-19)?
First, the most important fact: There’s no evidence that dogs can spread COVID-19 to humans, according to the World Health Organization and many other experts.
That being said, recent tests have proven that dogs can catch COVID-19 (though the risk is very low).
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong announced that a Pomeranian, which had previously tested “weak positive” for COVID-19, has been infected with the virus. The AFCD reached this conclusion based on the fact that the dog developed an immune response to the viral infection. The dog displayed no symptoms of being sick.
After testing 17 dogs and eight cats that had been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients, the AFCD found only two coronovirus-positive dogs. This suggests that dogs cannot easily contract COVID-19.
And just to reiterate, experts do not believe dogs can infect humans with COVID-19.
But keep in mind that this is a novel virus (AKA, one we’ve never seen before). As such, research and testing are ongoing, and there’s a lot we still don’t know. That’s why health officials have asked infected people to quarantine themselves from pets. It’s also wise to take preventive measures, even if you aren’t ill with coronavirus.
5 steps to reduce the risk of coronavirus in dogs
Besides keeping your dog away from people infected with COVID-19, here are a few precautionary steps you should take to protect both you and your pup:
- Wash your hands before and after interacting with your dog to reduce the transfer of dirt and any germs.
- Avoid contact with wildlife, including those kept as pets, and stray or free-roaming dogs and cats.
- Routinely clean and disinfect animal contact surfaces, such as cages and feeding areas.
- Contact your veterinary team if your dog shows signs of not feeling well.
- Practice good hygiene yourself, and if you think you’re developing flu-like symptoms, stay home and call your medical provider for advice on next steps.
Again, the CDC recommends you avoid contact with both pets and people if you should test positive with COVID-19. Human-to-dog virus transmission may be unlikely. But if an infected person pets a dog, the dog’s coat could then harbor germs that might infect someone else.
And it hopefully goes without saying, but please never abandon your pets due to coronavirus concerns.
Additional resources about COVID-19
We hope this information has quelled some of your anxiety about coronavirus in dogs. For additional information, please refer to the following reliable sources:
- World Small Animal Veterinary Association: Coronavirus and Companion Animals Advice
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Note: There are other types of coronavirus that dogs may carry including canine coronavirus disease (CCoV) and canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV). These are completely unconnected to COVID-19 and cannot be transmitted to humans.