Can Dogs Get Coronavirus COVID-19?

With coronavirus spreading so quickly, dog owners are becoming increasingly concerned their dogs could catch the deadly disease or they could catch it from their animals – but is that scientifically possible?

So far, there have been two reported cases of dogs that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Both of them are pet dogs in Hong Kong and have been placed into quarantine. The first one is Pomeranian that tested “‘weak positive’ for coronavirus and the second dog is German Shepherd dog confirmed last Thursday, March 19.

Experts say the dog, a Pomeranian, had a “low level of infection” that was likely to have come from a human, The Guardian reported. Much like the original dog, the second dog that tested positive lived with someone with COVID-19, is showing no signs of illness, and there continues to be no evidence that dogs or other domestic pets can spread SARS-CoV-2.

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus From A Human?

According to the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus COV-19 spreads from humans to humans in close contact via nasal and oral pathway.

As of now, there’s no evidence that dogs could get coronavirus from contact with an infected human – hence the human to animal transmission theory is yet to be validated at this point.

Can Dogs Give You Coronavirus?

The World Health Organization (at the time of publishing this article) reported that your dog likely cannot transmit COVID-19 to you:

“While there have been two instances of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.”


Should I Quarantine My Dog?

Many dog owners have started equipping their dogs with tiny face masks, but that doesn’t mean this is actually beneficial. In fact, it can be even more distressing for the dog and could cause them to start showing weird behaviour.

We should all stick to the basics: proper hygiene

WHO advises all dog owners to wash their hands with soap before and after handling dogs.

It’s also recommended that you clean your dog more often than usual, especially the paws after every walk outside.

The most practical way to do it is by using hygienic dog wet wipes or mild natural soaps.


Can Veterinarians Test For COVID-19 In Dogs?

Yes, the necessary equipment to screen for the current COVID-19 in dogs has been recently acquired by The College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The test should be available any time soon, however, due to a limited capacity at labs it could be very costly and used only in cases where dogs have been directly exposed to the disease or/and are already showing some symptoms.

What Happened With The Pomeranian Dog That Tested Positive?

Vets believe COVID-19 was probably on the aforementioned dog’s fur, but did not sicken the dog. “The dog never became clinically ill, and it remains unclear whether the dog tested positive from being kept in an environment with a COVID-19-infected human or if the dog truly became infected with COVID-19,” explains Christie Long, DVM, head of veterinary medicine at Modern Animal.

“Since the dog lives with a COVID-19 patient, the potential is significant for the positive test to have come as a result of the dog picking up the virus from the environment with its nose.”

A woman wears a mask while carrying a dog in the street on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Getty Images

How can you protect yourself and your dog?

To protect yourself and your dog from catching coronavirus, the WHO and other public health organizations advise the following: 

  • Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing, with a tissue or your elbow
  • Put the tissue straight into a closed bin
  • Wash your hands afterwards, and then frequently, with soap or sanitiser
  • Keep your distance from people who are coughing and sneezing (at least one metre)
  • People who are sick should restrict contacting animals.
  • Pet owners are reminded to adopt good hygiene practices (including hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them) and to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment.

You can read more about the WHO’s advice on coronavirus here.

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