Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?

Posted by Michael Shine

What you need to know

We do not know the exact source of the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but we know that it originally came from an animal, likely a bat.

At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats. Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, infect only animals and do not infect humans.

Risk of animals spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to people
Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to humans and then spread between people, but this is rare. This is what happened with the virus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19, with the virus likely originating in bats. The first reported infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person to person.

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. Recent studies show that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. More studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.

The World Health Organization declared that the COVID-19 novel coronavirus is a global pandemic. In the panic over the spread of the virus, people are worried not only about their health but the health of their dogs, cats, and other pets.

Dogs wearing face masks have popped up in photos across social media, causing pet owners everywhere to ask: can dogs get coronavirus.

Can dogs contract COVID-19?

Dogs can contract certain types of coronaviruses, such as the canine respiratory coronavirus. Still, this specific novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is believed not to be a health threat to dogs. Two pet dogs in Hong Kong have tested positive for COVID-19, and both of these dogs lived in homes with COVID-19 positive owners. Local health officials characterize the cases of the two dogs in Hong Kong as "likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission," and neither dog showed any signs of illness from the virus.Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?

Hong Kong health officials have continued to test dogs and cats owned by people infected with the coronavirus. Officials there have stated that cases of infection in dogs appear to be infrequent. As of March 25, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department “has conducted tests on 17 dogs and eight cats from households with confirmed COVID-19 cases or persons in close contact with confirmed patients, and only two dogs had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”

Can pets get corona?

Hong Kong officials stress that “these findings indicate that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus.”

Can other animals contract COVID-19?

Two pet cats, one in Hong Kong and one in Belgium, have tested positive for COVID-19. Both of these cats lived in homes with COVID-19 positive owners.
A tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo is the first known case of COVID-19 in an animal in the United States. Several tigers and lions at the zoo showed symptoms including a dry cough, wheezing, and lack of appetite. All of the animals at the zoo are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who showed signs of COVID-19. These zoo animals are expected to recover. Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and USDA official, tells the Associated Press, “There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of infection in the United States.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association also reports on preliminary results of “experimental infection” of domestic cats, ferrets, and dogs in China, but cautions that these results don’t represent real-world circumstances and should not be overly interpreted.

Can dogs spread COVID-19?

The World Health Organization states, “There is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.” Covering your face with a cloth face covering can also help reduce the possibility of spreading droplets.
The CDC says that “while this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person.” The CDC recommends that people traveling to China avoid animals both alive and dead, “but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this novel coronavirus.”

Dogs wearing masks for corona

In households where a person has tested positive for the virus, the CDC recommends having another person in the household handle the daily care of the pet if possible.

Is it safe to pet my dog?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, petting a dog’s fur is a low risk. The AVMA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Gail Golab says, “We’re not overly concerned about people contracting COVID-19 through contact with dogs and cats.” And there’s science behind that: “The virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs,” Golab says. “Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contact them through touch.”

Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, says, “The CDC has not reported any cases of pets becoming infected with COVID-19 in the United States.” Dr. Klein urges common-sense best practices when it comes to our pets: “If you have children, you wouldn’t have them touch a puppy and put their fingers in their mouth because they can have fecal contamination,” he says. “The general practice of washing our hands after touching a puppy or a dog—that’s normal hygiene.”

Can I walk my dog?

Physical and mental exercise is extremely important for dogs and dog owners alike. Before taking a walk, check your local regulations. As long as the area where you reside remains safe enough to venture outside, dog owners feeling healthy and well should plan to continue walking their dogs daily, albeit with added safety measures like maintaining social distancing and covering your face with a mask. Observe any local ordinances concerning curfews, even if that means adjusting your dog walking schedule.

Owners should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds before and after each walk. Consider carrying around a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer during your walks. Practice social distancing measures by walking your dog in uncrowded areas when possible. If you live in a big city, make efforts to take your dog down less-heavily-trafficked blocks, or try adjusting walks to less busy times of day and night. Prevent your dog from associating with other people out of an abundance of caution.

How can dog owners protect dogs from coronavirus?

For now, healthy pet owners in the U.S. don’t need to do anything other than follow basic hygienic precautions such as washing their hands with soap and water before and after contact with any animal, including dogs and cats. If you test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, experts recommend that you should “restrict contact with animals — both to avoid exposing the pets and to prevent getting the virus on their skin or fur, which might be passed on to another person who touches the animal.”

Wearing a mask while interacting with your dog or other pets can reduce the possibility of spreading the virus through droplets. To reduce the spread of all germs, you may also consider wiping your pet’s paws when they come in and out of the house with a paw cleaner and paw wipes.

Dogs do not need a face mask to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. If you are still concerned or notice a change in your dog’s health, speak to a veterinarian. And the most important protection of all: Under no circumstances should owners abandon their dogs, cats, or other pets because of COVID-19 fears.

The AKC is here to help dog owners adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Can dogs get the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

At this time, experts believe it isn't very likely. The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can get infected with the new coronavirus. The OIE states there is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that, "At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19."

If experts believe it is unlikely for a dog to get COVID-19, how did a dog test "positive" in Hong Kong?

This canine patient was in close contact with an infected human, who was likely shedding large quantities of the virus. The close contact led to the infection being in the dog's nose. There is no indication that the dog is sick or showing any symptoms. Authorities say continue to quarantine and test the dog to evaluate if the canine patient becomes ill. In short, there was coronavirus on the dog just like there was coronavirus on the floor in the room, but the dog was not infected or diseased.

Although pets cannot become sick from COVID-19, could they serve as a conduit of infection between people?

A person with COVID-19 could sneeze or otherwise contaminate their pet. Then another individual could touch that animal and contract the disease. Veterinary experts believe the risk for transmission would below. Animals living with sick individuals should keep away from other people and animals (quarantined at home).

Mask wearing fur baby and companion.

Just as people who live with sick individuals must avoid contact with others, do the same with your pets.

Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for dogs and cats?

There is no vaccine for COVID-19 for people or animals at this time.

Veterinarians are familiar with other coronaviruses. Similar but different coronavirus species cause several common diseases in domestic animals. Many dogs, for example, are vaccinated for another species of coronavirus (Canine Coronavirus) as puppies. However, this vaccine does not protect dogs from COVID-19.

Can veterinarians test for COVID-19 in pets?

Yes. The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine has recently purchased the needed equipment to test for the new COVID-19 in pets. They expect the test to be available to veterinarians starting March 15. Please contact the diagnostic laboratory with any further questions at 217-333-1620.

Why is the college offering a COVID-19 test for pets if they cannot get it?

The college, researchers are offering this testing in the future to monitor the outbreak. Current information suggests that our pets cannot become infected with COVID-19 and spread it to other animals and people. We still have a lot to learn about this new virus. It is essential to evaluate if our current understanding changes.

What animal did COVID-19 originate?

Current research suggests that horseshoe bats are the reservoir species, and the virus originated from that species as well. Previous human coronavirus outbreaks, SARS and MERS, originated in bats but passed through other species, such as the palm civet and camels.

If diagnosed with Covid-19, how do I protect my pet?

Since your pet is at minimal risk of COVID-19 infection, there are no specific steps needed to protect them from the disease. Pets can have the virus ON THEM if they are in an environment with a large quantity of the virus and could serve to be a source of the infection for other people, including family members.

Therefore, to protect other people and yourself, the CDC recommends that you limit contact with pets if you are sick with COVID-19. Avoid snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must interact with your pet, wash your hands before and after, and wear a face mask.

Should my pet wear a face mask in public?

No. Face masks may not protect your pet from disease transmission and may cause other breathing difficulties.

Should I wear a face mask?

Wearing a surgical mask won't prevent anyone (human or animal) from being exposed to the virus. A cover should prevent someone that is potentially infectious from spreading the virus to others via droplets through coughing, sneezing, or talking.

How do I protect my pet and myself from COVID-19?

Since your pet is at minimal risk of COVID-19 infection, there are no specific steps needed to protect them from the disease.

To protect yourself, the CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw it away.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Should I Have Voluntary Home Isolation?

If you are ill with symptoms of respiratory diseases, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue, stay home.

The CDC recommends quarantine until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100 degrees F) or signs of illness without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Veterinary practices should designate their clinic as a temporary NO HANDSHAKE ZONE. Ask colleagues and clients to refrain from shaking hands.

What other precautions do you recommend?

Visitation to nursing homes and long-term care facilities by service animals and their handlers should be discouraged at this time.
Read more: Foods Your Pets Should Never Eat

Sources: College of Veterinary Medicine

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