This post is not meant to create a panic but more to share some helpful information to dog owners Anyone with a pet, not just dogs, is asking questions like:
- Can my pet get sick?
- Can my dog get COVID 19?
- Can I get coronavirus from my pet?
- Can animals spread the virus?
These are all valid questions with varying answers depending on your source of information (my wife told me this morning as a matter of fact that our dogs cannot contract the virus based on an article she read today). So, for this post I have relied entirely on the Center for Disease Control for my information (read the whole thing for yourself here).
The coronavirus is actually a family of viruses. There are different versions of the virus, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, that spread animal-to-animal and others that are person-to-person. COVID-19, while believed to have originated from a live animal market, is now spreading from person-to-person. So, if there are different versions of the virus for animals and people my dog is safe, right? Well, maybe.
Two dogs in Hong Kong, whose owners tested positive for COVID-19, have tested positive for the virus in what is believed to be a case of human-to-animal transmission. The CDC says, “Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.” Basically, the CDC is saying is “we’re not sure.” The CDC does not make presumptions off a few cases. The answers they provide are based on enough data to present facts. At this point, we just don’t have enough data to definitively say yes or no.
What we do know:
We do know that there is currently no evidence to suggest animals, specifically pets, can spread COVID-19 and they are not a source of infection in the United States. So, you shouldn’t be afraid of being around your pets or other people’s pets.
What we don’t know:
We don’t know if you can infect your pet if you have COVID-19. The Hong Kong case has raised questions of whether this version of the virus, while presumed to be person-to-person only, can be spread person-to-animal. So, in regard to coronavirus, your pets should be more worried about you than you are of them.
What does this mean?
If you have, or show symptoms of, COVID-19, treat your pet (and any animal) like you would a human—restrict contact. The CDC says, “Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.” Similarly, limit the exposure your pet has to other humans. Example: if you’re crossing the street to avoid contact with humans, don’t let your dog run up and snuggle the neighbor. The most tempting situation might be a dog park. You may think you’re safe because you’re staying more than six feet away from the other people there with their dogs, but your dog may be at risk if they are visiting with the other people.
In summary…at this point there is no reason to believe your pet poses you any risk, but you may be a risk to them. Be smart, if sick restrict contact and try to help your pet practice safe social distancing just like you are.