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Coronavirus + Your Dog: What to Know

February 14, 2021

The whole world is focused on the novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It’s the virus that causes COVID-19, and it’s only natural that you would be concerned about your family’s safety, and that includes your fur babies! In this article, we’ll explain how the virus is transmitted, if your dog is at risk, and other important facts you need to know about coronavirus and your dog.

Can dogs get or spread COVID-19?

This is a continuously developing situation, and scientists are learning something new about this virus every single day. While there have been a handful of pets who have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.” 

The risk of your dog contracting the virus or spreading it to humans is extremely low. The pets who have contracted the virus live with humans who have tested positive for the virus, and they usually displayed no symptoms at all, or only very mild ones.

Can other animals get COVID-19 and spread it to you or your dog?

There have been two cats who have tested positive for COVID-19 in New York. They both displayed only very mild respiratory symptoms. There have also been two cats in other parts of the world to contract the disease and display mild symptoms.

You may have also heard that a handful of tigers and other big cats have tested positive for the virus. They all displayed some respiratory symptoms but are expected to make a complete recovery.

It is believed that these animals all contracted the virus when they were exposed to a caretaker who was infected. There is no evidence to suggest that animals can spread the virus to people or that they are a source of infection in dogs or other animals.

How is the coronavirus spread?

Since there is no evidence that dogs or other animals can transmit the virus, how is it spread? According to experts, COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets that are produced when a person who has the virus sneezes, coughs, or speaks.

The best way to protect yourself from contracting the virus is to practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. Wearing a face covering will reduce the possibility of you spreading the virus to other people.

Should you stay away from your dog if you have the virus?

Since it is slightly possible that you could transmit the virus to your dog and other pets, it is recommended that you treat your pets like any other member of the family if you test positive. Isolate yourself and avoid all contact with pets and people until you are recovered. Wash your hands often and wear a mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Should you be washing or sanitizing your dog in some way?

There’s no reason to wash or sanitize your dog more often due to the coronavirus. If your dog had contact with someone who has the virus, there is an extremely slight chance that virus particles could remain on their fur. If your dog has been exposed to someone with the virus, giving him a bath as you normally would eliminates any risk of you getting the virus from petting your dog. 

And, if your dog displays respiratory symptoms such as coughing, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Many clinics, like the Upper East Side animal hospital, Bond Vet, are offering telemedicine consultations and urgent care appointments even during this difficult time.

What can you do to protect your dog from COVID-19?

If you are healthy, the best thing you can do to protect your dog is to take the same hygiene precautions you would normally take with other family members. Wash your hands often, especially before having contact with your dog or his food.

Keep your dog away from other people and pets as much as possible until authorities give the all-clear. If you have cats, keep them indoors to prevent them from interacting with other people or pets. Keep your dog on a leash when you’re outside and maintain at least 6-feet of space from other people and pets. Avoid going to the dog park or other places where people and dogs gather in large numbers or confined spaces.

If you do test positive for the virus, arrange for a trusted friend or family member to take care of your dog until you are recovered. Avoid contact with your dog, including sharing food or bedding, petting, and snuggling. If you must be around your dog when you’re sick, wear a face covering and wash your hands before and after touching them or their food.

Is COVID-19 the same thing as canine coronavirus?

No, canine coronavirus (CCoV) is not caused by the same virus that causes COVID-19. While dogs can transmit CCoV to other dogs, they cannot transmit it to people. CCoV causes gastrointestinal issues in dogs but does not affect the respiratory system like COVID-19 does in humans. 

Dogs who contract CCoV experience mild to severe abdominal discomfort, but the disease usually only lasts a few days. CCoV is contracted when a dog eats from a contaminated food dish, has contact with infected fecal matter, or comes in direct contact with an infected dog.

If you are concerned about your dog contracting canine coronavirus, you should speak to your vet to see if he should be vaccinated. Just keep in mind that the vaccine for CCoV does nothing to prevent you or your dog from contracting COVID-19, so you should still practice the hygiene and social distancing recommendations presented in this article.

How to Cope with a Bored Dog During Social Distancing

During this time, authorities are recommending that people work from home as much as possible and practice social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While your furry best friend may be thrilled to have you home all day, they’re also likely to distract you from your work. After all, they get bored and restless, just like the rest of us.

While you might be tempted to head to your favorite dog park, that’s probably not the best idea right now. Daily walks are still a great way for both of you to stay active, just be sure to follow social distancing guidelines if you encounter other people and dogs on your walk.

Interactive dog toys and treat puzzles are great for keeping your dog occupied while you’re trying to work. And, if you have a backyard, a rigorous game of fetch is always a great way to tire out a dog who’s been cooped up in the house too much.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, there’s no reason to be concerned that you could get coronavirus from your dog. And, there is only a very slight risk of your dog contracting the virus from a human, especially if you follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Even better, dogs are wonderful for relieving stress and anxiety, so now is a great time to enjoy the extra time with your furry best friend!