It’s a worrying time. The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak is beginning to sweep across the world. The WHO has stated it is a global pandemic, and we must now all take steps to fight it together. We need to stay as informed as we possibly can.
People are rightly concerned about the impacts of this disease upon their lives, livelihoods and loved ones. One of those fears is how a beloved pet might be affected by this new coronavirus. Can they catch the disease and is it harmful for them? This article will go through what we currently know.
Can my dog get coronavirus?
The answer is it’s possible they can get the disease but it’s not likely. Even if they are able to contract it, it is currently considered very unlikely to be a threat to them as they are probably not very good hosts for the virus. Although dogs can suffer from various other coronaviruses, they do not seem to be affected by COVID-19.
Previously, they were thought to be immune to the virus, but the WHO changed its stance when a dog in Hong Kong was found to be infected. The infection was a weak positive and was determined to have been spread from its owner. However, the researchers have subsequently stated that it’s possible the test was contaminated due to “environmental” concerns.
As it is early days, it’s possible this information might change as more data is found.
Can my dog transmit coronavirus?
The WHO and CDC currently believe that domestic pets like dogs can’t spread the coronavirus. This is reassuring news. However, the evidence isn’t totally conclusive as the disease is still so new.
We must also keep in consideration the fact that your dog, although not able to transmit the disease through its own symptoms, could perhaps act as a vector for it. A vector is anything where the disease can live for a non-negligible amount of time and therefore be transmitted. For example, If you have COVID-19 and stroke your dog, you may transfer it to their fur where it could be transmitted to another human who also strokes your dog.
How can I protect my dog, myself, and others?
Although the chances are high that dogs are a) not affected by COVID-19 and b) are not able to transmit it, it is still essential to protect your pet if you are showing symptoms. This is because the evidence is not conclusive and if your dog can act as a vector for the disease, then it may inadvertently spread COVID-19 to other people it comes into contact with.
The World Organization for Animal Health states it would be advisable for people to limit contact with their dogs until more is known about the virus. It also states that people should wash their hands thoroughly before and after feeding, stroking or otherwise engaging with their dog. If you think you have COVID-19, consider wearing a face mask if in close proximity to your dog.
It’s a testing time, and it’s natural to be worried. By staying informed and keeping good hygiene, both for yourself and your pet, you can help stop the spread of COVID-19 around the world.