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Does COVID-19 Affect Dogs? The Precautions to Take

With all the scary news out there about COVID-19, you may be wondering if you need to worry about your dog. There have been reports of animals getting sick with the novel Coronavirus, so what does this mean for your pooch?

Does COVID-19 affect dogs? What steps should you take to protect your pet during the pandemic?

We’ll let you in on what we know and what you need to do to keep your best friend safe.

Can Dogs Get Sick with COVID-19?

Dog wearing a face mask

So can dogs get sick with the Coronavirus? The short answer is… we’re not sure. So far, there have been no confirmed cases of a dog getting sick because of this disease. There’s a lot that we still don’t know about the virus, and how it impacts animals is one of those things.

A better question is, “can dogs become infected with COVID-19?” The answer to that appears to be yes.

There have been a few cases of dogs testing positive for the disease in Hong Kong. Both instances involved pets of people infected with the virus. Neither dog ever showed symptoms of being sick with the Coronavirus, however.

One of the dogs who tested positive died shortly after, but the canine was 17 years old and had other health issues, so it seems that it passed away due to a different illness than COVID-19.

The bottom line is that while it seems that dogs may be able to carry the disease, so far, it doesn’t seem like they can get sick with it.

With so many people out there infected with the virus, many of them with pet dogs, it seems likely that if dogs could catch and carry the disease easily, we’d have seen more cases by now. Still, only time and more research will tell us for certain.

Can You Catch COVID-19 From Your Dog?

Can they catch it from you? What about your other pets?

Dogs don’t appear to be able to transmit the virus, either to humans or to other pets. There haven’t been any real-world cases to look at where dogs spread the disease to humans or other animals.

Social distancing dog in scooter during coronavirus

There have been some lab tests done to try to figure out if dogs can carry or spread the disease. In those tests, dogs seemed to be resistant to the condition and didn’t spread it.

You may have heard of recent research that suggests the Coronavirus originated after it jumped from bats to dogs to humans. Experts say that study is NOT conclusive, and there appears to be very little evidence to suggest COVID-19 can jump from canines to humans.

Cats, on the other hand, could be a different story. Felines appear to be able to become infected and get sick from the disease after catching it from humans. They can also spread it to each other.

In fact, the only case we have of an animal contracting COVID-19 in the United States is a tiger who got sick at a zoo in New York City.

In other words, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything to worry about with your dog getting you or your other pets ill with this disease. But unlikely doesn’t mean impossible, so it’s always best to be safe.

Precautions: How to protect yourself?

While it seems to be unlikely since we aren’t positive if dogs can spread the disease, you should treat other dogs like you do people. In other words, maintain a 6-foot distance from dogs other than your own, and wash your hands if you come into contact with a dog.

It’s a good idea to stay away from leashed dogs, anyway, because, at the other end of that leash, there’s usually a human. Right now, most experts say you should stay 6-feet away from other people.

Humans and dogs can share some diseases, so, understandably, you might be scared. But while it’s smart to be cautious around other people’s dogs, there’s absolutely no reason to remove your pet from your home to avoid getting sick.

This is especially true since it doesn’t appear that dogs transmit COVID-19.

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that dogs can help lower blood pressure and ease anxiety. So, if the pandemic is getting you worked up, having your canine friend around could actually improve your health. Thanks, Rover!

What can you do to protect your dog?

Ok, so we determined that you’re probably safe from catching the novel Coronavirus from your dog, but is your fur baby safe? How do you keep your pup as healthy as possible?

Modify Your Behavior If You’re Sick

If you are sick with COVID-19, it’s safest to err on the side of caution. That means staying away from your pet, and don’t hug, kiss, or pet your dog while you are ill. If necessary, wash your hands before and after you touch them, and wear a mask if you have to be around them.

You may even want to have someone take care of your dog while you are sick, if possible. Even if you aren’t sick, there are still precautions you should take to keep your pet safe.

Dogs Should Practice Social Distancing Too!

The CDC recommends that you do not let your dog interact with other dogs who don’t live with you. That means steering clear of other canines while you are on walkies and don’t allow your pet to interact with a neighboring dog through the fence.

Now for the terrible news: you should avoid dog parks or other places where dogs gather. It’s tough, but you want to keep your dog safe, even if that means staying away from the places they love.

If your place doesn’t allow people to go outside, then you can think of other ways to give your pooch her needed physical exercise. A simple game of fetch or indoor toys can help.

Some owners can still take their dogs on walks or hikes to get their energy out. If you’re bored by being stuck at home, you can imagine that your dog feels the same way.

Keep Your Dog Engaged

Beyond working out, give them some mental stimulation, too. Play hide and seek with a favorite toy or buy them puzzle games or wobble balls to keep them active. You don’t want your dog to suffer from depression or anxiety any more than you want to during the pandemic.

You should also do your best to keep your pet physically healthy during this time. If, by chance, we find out that dogs can get infected, you want their immune system to be in top shape to give them a fighting chance.

If your dog starts to act like they might be sick and you or someone you’ve been around has been ill with COVID-19, get them to the vet to be checked out right away.

Even if you don’t think they’ve been exposed, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get whatever is ailing them treated.

Many vets will come to visit you and your dog in your car rather than having you come inside to help protect you from getting exposed to other people. So don’t put off treating your dog, even during this pandemic.

Nothing Beats Being Prepared

Whether you are sick or not, it’s smart to be ready for almost anything. Keep at least two weeks of your dog’s medication on hand at all times. You don’t want to run out and find that your pharmacy can’t fill your prescription before you run out.

Try to maintain a month’s supply of food and treats, as well. Since humans should be avoiding the grocery store as much as possible, you can have food delivered, or buy in bulk. 

Keep information on hand for how to care for your dog should you get ill or worse. You want to know that your best friend is taken care of if you’re too sick to do it. Then, share that plan with someone who will commit to caring for your dog for you.

You should also keep supplies that you need to provide your dog with the care it needs. Keep leashes, harnesses, or travel crates on hand in a place where a caregiver can easily access them.

We’re All In This Together While Staying Apart

Loving your dog in sickness and in health

It’s normal to be worried and anxious during unsettling times. As hard as it may be for the humans during this pandemic, it’s difficult on your dog as well. But you can be there for each other to make the most of this and every bad situation.

The good news is, it doesn’t seem that your dog can get sick from COVID-19, and you likely can’t get the disease from your dog. So cuddle up, have a treat, and enjoy each other’s company. Stay indoors and stay safe. At least you’ve got each other, right!?

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