Fact or Myth: Can your Dog Catch COVID-19 from Humans?
The world is currently facing a global pandemic, due to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Because the virus is so new, there are a lot of questions regarding the virus, and a lot of conflicting information being spread. As a result, a lot of pet owners are asking: is my dog safe?
COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus, which is a form of respiratory illness. It is spread through infected particles traveling through the air when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It can also be transmitted to others by touching a surface that an infected person has also touched. Some people may get the virus but not display any symptoms. Although these people are asymptomatic, they are still contagious.
There have been a few reports emerge that would suggest that a small number of dogs have tested positive for COVID-19. Initial animal research shows that dogs can be infected, but they are less likely to get the virus compared to other animals such as cats. It is believed that these animals were infected by their owners, as the virus can travel from human to animal. In all of the cases reported so far, the animals got sick after being in close contact with their owners who had already contracted the disease.
Although it appears possible for dogs to contract the virus, the CDC states that currently, they have no evidence that suggests that dogs (or cats) are capable of transmitting the virus back to humans. If your dog does appear unwell due to COVID-19, the chance that they will pass that on to you or your family is extremely low.
Because there is still so much uncertainty regarding the safety of pets, the CDC recommends that you keep your dogs as safe as possible, by treating them the same as humans in regards to social distancing. You should take precautionary measures, including:
- Always using a leash when going on walks, and maintaining a safe distance from other people and animals
- Refrain from using dog parks, to avoid unnecessary groups of people and other dogs
- Wash your hands before and after handling your dog’s food
- If you are concerned that you have the virus, reduce contact with your pets as much as possible – get family members/another member of the household to care for them, to avoid accidentally spreading it
If your dog appears to be experiencing some form of respiratory illness, it is possible that they may have contracted COVID-19. If you are concerned about the health of your pet, it is possible to get them tested for the virus. This can be done with a pet-specific test, which is different to the COVID-19 tests given to humans.
Because there is new information coming out on a frequent basis, it is important to stay up to date with the latest research. Keep your pets safe, and if your dog begins to display symptoms of illness, get in touch with your vet.