Earlier this month, the COVID-19 novel coronavirus was declared by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic. Naturally, this has triggered widespread apprehensions over the spread of the virus. In addition to their own health, millions of pet owners around the world are also worried about their pet dogs, cats, and other animals.
In recent days, many of us have seen images of dogs wearing face masks in different social media platforms. This has raised the question in many people’s minds about whether dogs can also get coronavirus.
First of all, please note that certain types of coronaviruses including the canine respiratory coronavirus can be contracted by dogs. However, the specific novel coronavirus called COVID-19 poses no health risk to dogs at all. The World Health Organization has already mentioned that at present, there is no evidence suggesting that COVID-19 can be transmitted by dogs, cats or any other pet animal. According to a well-known pet care brand Pet Parents, COVID-19 spreads mostly in the form of droplets when infected individual talks, sneezes, or coughs.
Can Dogs Spread COVID-19?
In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, pet owners in China were cautioned by the country’s National Health Commission to be vigilant about their own as well as their pets’ health. The commission mentioned that there is a chance of pets getting infected if they go out and come into contact with an infected person. In such cases, the pets should be isolated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentioned that though the virus may have emerged from animal sources, it has spread only from person-to-person. People traveling to China were recommended by the CDC to avoid both live and dead animals. At the same time, the CDC also mentioned that animals or pets were unlikely to be an infection source in the United States.
In Hong Kong, two pet dogs with COVID-19 positive owners were also tested positive for the virus. However, health experts characterized these cases as human-to-animal transmission. Therefore, right now, there is no reason to believe that the infection of COVID-19 can be spread by pet animals.
How Safe is it to Pet a Dog?
American Veterinary Medical Association categorizes petting the fur of a dog as a low-risk activity. Explaining the science behind their view, the AVMA mentions that COVID-19 thrives on smooth surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, etc. Pet fur being a porous material, it tends to trap and absorb the pathogens. Therefore, contracting the virus through touch is extremely unlikely.
Is it Safe to Walk a Dog?
Mental, as well as physical exercises, are always important for dogs and their owners. However, in the present scenario, it is important to check the local regulations before venturing out. If there are no restrictions in your locality, continue walking your dog daily with certain safety measures. Before and after each walk, wash your hands thoroughly for no less than 20 seconds. Carrying a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer during your walks can be a good idea. Whenever possible, adhere to social distancing measures by taking your dog to areas that are not crowded. Those living in big cities should opt for areas with less traffic and relatively less busy periods of the day.
How to Protect Our Dogs from Coronavirus:
As of now, pet owners in the US are only required to follow basic hygiene practices. This includes washing hands with water and soaps before and after coming in contact with their dogs. If a dog owner tests positive for COVID-19, they must restrict contact with the pet. This will prevent transmission of the virus to another person touching the pet. The spread of germs by a dog can also be restricted by using paw wipes and paw cleaners.
Please remember that face masks are not essential to protect your pet dog from the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Finally, under no circumstances should you consider abandoning your pet dog because of the fear of COVID-19.