As some of you might know, I study public health and epidemiology when I am not training dogs. In December of 2020 I will complete my Master of Public Health degree! There’s been a lot of concern and unknowns regarding the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2. One question I’ve seen pop up has been concern over dogs and other pets getting the virus.
While information is rapidly evolving, I’ll break down what is available as of March 11, 2020 and provide resources within this post for you to refer back to for any updates.
Can my dog get COVID-19?
As far as is currently known, dogs and other pets do not become ill with the virus (AVMA, 2020; CDC, 2020). The virus is suspected to have originated in an animal, but it is assumed at this time to have originated in a bat, not any of our domestic type animals (AVMA, 2020).
Can dogs spread COVID-19?
No spread due to dogs (or other pets) has been reported in most of the world (CDC, 2020). However, because the virus is new and it is unknown how it survives on various surfaces and outside of the human respiratory system, the CDC recommends being safe and having someone else in the household care for your pet if you contract COVID-19. This is currently more of a recommendation to avoid accidentally spreading the disease to someone else than it is of a worry that your dog will become ill.
But I heard a dog in Hong Kong had COVID-19!
A pomeranian in Hong Kong did test weakly positive for the virus after their owner was diagnosed with the disease. The test that was done looks for pieces of the RNA, which is the virus version of DNA, and was done on the nasal cavity and mouth of the dog. Still, this is not a current reason for alarm at this time. The pomeranian has shown no signs of illness, so even though the disease was present, it hasn’t seemed to cause any symptoms. It’s also possible that the moist environment was simply able to let the virus exist after the dog licked a surface contaminated by their owner. Finally, the weak positive suggests that even if dogs end up with the virus, it may not reach levels high enough to transmit back to humans (AVMA, 2020). At this time you are much more likely to be infected by a human, and no dogs have become symptomatically ill!
How should I be prepared?
Just as the CDC recommends having supplies on hand to self-quarantine for 2 weeks if necessary, make sure the necessary dog food and any dog medicines are on hand as well for those several weeks. If you do contract the virus, follow the CDC recommendations to have others care for your dog or to wash your hands before and after interacting with your dog (AVMA, 2020; CDC, 2020).
Visit these links for the most accurate and up to date information! Stories floating around on social media are not necessarily accurate, so checking with those actively updating the information and controlling the spread is the most helpful way to find out what you need to know.
American Veterinary Medical Association. (2020). COVID-19.
Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Frequently asked questions and answers. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
If you're concerned about attending a dog class or private lesson during this time, but still need help with your dog, contact us! I offer web-based consults and lessons using Zoom video chat.