Coronavirus and Dogs: What You Need to Know

According to World Health Organization (at time of print), it’s good news for our furry friends in terms of COVID-19. Below we break down what we’ve known so far about pets and COVID-19, and advice for caring for your dog during the COVID-19 crisis. As we learn more about this illness, recommended procedures can change quickly. Please refer to the WHO and CDC website for the most up-to-date information.

Is my dog at risk for catching Coronavirus?

The World Health Organization (at time of print) reports that “there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.” There has been one case of a Pomeranian in Hong Kong testing for a weak positive for the virus in oral and nasal swab samples. The dog is owned by a person who contracted the virus. A serology test, which looks for antibodies specific to the Coronavirus in the blood, had come back negative, meaning either the dog was not infected, or that it had such a mild infection that it did not make antibodies. Hong Kong health officials report the dog may not have actually been carrying the virus but tested positive due to ‘environmental contamination’ – ie. picking up the virus from the environment with its nose. More testings to be done.

Evidence from around the world so far indicated that dogs were not suitable hosts for the virus. To date, there have been no cases of dogs actually exhibiting symptoms or people becoming infected by an infected dog.

Can my dog spread Coronavirus to humans?

While there’s no solid evidence that pets can carry the virus, they still may be fomites for it. A fomite is a surface that can transmit disease. Anything can be a fomite – a door handle, a tote bag, a phone screen.

If someone is infected and coughing on their hand then petting their dog, they can transfer the virus to the dog’s fur. Other people may be exposed to the virus if they pet a dog that’s been touched by someone affected by the virus. However, this is not a common way for the virus to spread. You should always wash your hands thoroughly before and after petting any dogs. Do not pet dogs you do not know.

Should I stock up on dog food and medicine for my dog?

We do not want to incite panic buying. However, in case you have to quarantine yourself, you should prepare by buying a minimum two weeks supply of extra dog food and medications your dog needs. Call your vet to discuss.

Is it safe to go to the vet?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, you should avoid making unnecessary trips to areas that are frequented by many people. Contact your vet and ask their COVID-19 and Social Distancing Policies. Some vets offer online consultation and prescription medications order.

What if my dog has an accident or gets sick?

If your dog has a serious illness or injury, take them to the vet. Take the same precautions you would in other scenarios – avoid direct contact with other people, avoid touching surfaces and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Many emergency veterinary hospitals are now asking for owners to wait in their cars instead of in crowded waiting rooms.

What if I’m sick and my dog needs to go to the vet?

If you’ve been sick and need to take your dog to the vet in an emergency, call ahead and let them know you’re coming so they can prepare to help your dog while taking precautions for coming into contact with you.

Does Coronavirus affect my dog’s walk routine?

It’s safe to take your dog out for walks, but you should avoid letting other people stop and pet your dog (or doing the same with other people’s dogs). What about dog parks? Many dog parks (in the U.S.) are closing temporarily to help prevent the virus from spreading. Use your common sense and best judgement.

Is it okay to pet my dog?

Your dog brings you a lot of joy, especially now and when you’re minimising social interactions. If you and your family are following the CDC guidelines, and you are not sick nor have you been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to the virus, you should continue to enjoy the company of your dog. They’re often the best medicine at times like this.

Can I send my dog to daycare or keep my dog walker?

You should inquire about your dog walker and daycare’s COVID-19 Policies and have confidence that they follow the CDC guidelines. Use your common sense and best judgement.

What if I catch the virus and have to quarantine myself?

See if someone you know would be willing to board your dog during your quarantine as some places allow you to keep your pets with you while others don’t. Check with your GP and your state government for their specific requirements for quarantine. We suggest that you have a care plan for your pets in case of emergency. If you’re quarantined, you should limit contact with your pets. Stock up on food and medications for your dog, and limit contact with others.

What other precautions should I take against Coronavirus with my dog?

– Follow all the CDC guidelines for yourself, because you’re much more likely to bring COVID-19 into your home than your pet is.
Do not abandon your dog because of COVID-19 concerns.
– Avoid high-traffic areas like dog parks where social distancing is not possible.
– Consider using paw wipes to reduce the spread of germs.

Sources & References: WHOCDCEmbark Vet. Other site references have been included as links within this article. The information in this article is up-to-date at time of print (18/03/2020). However, given the changing nature of the crisis, please refer to the WHO and CDC website for the most up-to-date information.