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Can dogs be infected with the coronavirus?

coronavirus in dogs
Photo via llee_wu/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

With still so many unknowns about how COVID-19 spreads, transmits, and mutates, you may be worried that your furry friends could be susceptible to a COVID-19 infection. So, is it possible to find the coronavirus in dogs? 

The good news, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is that a very small number of cats and dogs worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus. These few cases have also been reported after an animal had been in close contact with an infected individual.

And while there is some evidence that the virus can be transmitted from humans to animals, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is even lower—based on the limited information that’s available. Even further complicating matters is that infected pets may not display any signs of illness. Of the few pets that have been diagnosed, most only demonstrated mild symptoms and have since fully recovered.

For example, two dogs that tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong had both been living in homes with owners who had likewise tested positive for the virus. Both dogs were completely asymptomatic and were later determined by local health officials “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.”

In fact, those two dogs with positive cases were the result of tests conducted on 17 dogs and eight cats from households “with confirmed COVID-19 cases or persons in close contact with confirmed patients.”

Though the sampling was taken on March 25, very early into the pandemic, officials in Hong Kong have maintained 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 dogs catch coronavirus from you?

That being said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And until we learn more about how the coronavirus affects animals, the CDC recommends that we treat pets as we would any other human family members to protect them from possible infection.

Pet owners should limit their pet’s interaction with people outside their household. Dogs should be kept on a leash at last six feet away from others, and cats should be kept indoors, if possible, and not be let to roam freely outside. You should also follow common-sense measures for your pets that you would yourself, such as avoiding public places with large numbers of people.

However, you should not take any measures that could harm your pet, such as putting a mask on them or wiping or bathing them with any kind of chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or hand sanitizers.

In the event that you believe you are sick with the coronavirus or have tested positive, you should restrict contact with your pets just like you would with other people. If possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick—but otherwise, make sure to wear a mask and to wash your hands before and after you come into contact.

As always, if you believe that you or your dog has been exposed to the coronavirus or have any other concerns about your pet’s health, the CDC advises that you simply speak to your veterinarian.

Sources: CDC, American Kennel Club


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