We’re living through some interesting times, with the spread of COVID-19 on the minds of nearly everyone. Pet owners are not without their own questions, but even the most cursory venture online finds a mountain of misinformation, fear-mongering and flat-out confusion.
To assuage fears and hopefully provide some calm understanding in this difficult situation, we’re going to detail what you need to know about COVID-19 and your dog.
What is COVID-19?
Let’s start at the top.
COVID-19 is a new disease previously not recognized in human beings. It belongs to the coronavirus family of viruses. Some coronaviruses occur in people and some occur in animals. In the case of humans, most coronaviruses are common and result in mostly mild illnesses – somewhat like the common cold.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. The disease impacts people differently, with most experiencing mild to moderate symptoms and requiring no special treatment. In some patients with underlying medical conditions like respiratory ailments, however, COVID-19 leads to serious illness.
For most individuals at most locations around the world, the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low. This is according to the World Health Organization’s latest data. Even so, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic because it had been registered across multiple continents around the world. Naming this coronavirus a pandemic has nothing to do with the severity of the actual condition and everything to do with its spread.
Can Pets Get COVID-19?
According to the WHO, there is currently no evidence that this coronavirus spreads to pets. The World Organisation for Animal Health states there is no evidence pets play a role in spreading the disease and notes that they do not get sick from having the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoes that sentiment.
COVID-19 and your Dog
There have been cases of dogs getting COVID-19, however. The most commonly-reported case involves two dogs from Hong Kong that were infected because they were in close contact with people carrying the virus. There were no detected symptoms, but it is believed that human-to-animal transmission took place.
Sadly, one of the dogs did pass away. A 17-year-old Pomeranian that tested positive for COVID-19 passed away two days after release from quarantine. Authorities believe age had more to do with its passing than anything else, although the dog’s owner refused an autopsy. It bears underlining that the dog was determined disease-free upon release from quarantine.
Asian family playing with Siberian husky dog together some animal experts cite the stress of that quarantine as being a lead factor in the Pomeranian’s unfortunate passing, which certainly seems likely.
It is not believed dogs spread COVID-19 to other animals or people with any ease, but there is evidence that dogs can get infected with the virus – even if they do not manifest symptoms and even if these cases are really, really rare. The vet diagnostic company IDEXX stated that out of thousands of pets tested for COVID-19.
Can Pets Spread COVID-19?
Right now, the science says that this coronavirus survives best on hard surfaces. On soft surfaces, like a dog’s fur for instance, the porous nature of the material makes it harder for the virus to live.
That said, be cautious. Always wash your hands after petting or playing with your dog. Pets can still be walked as long as owners are well enough to go outside and as long as any regional guidelines are adhered to.
Any Further Steps?
Basically, be sensible. Adhere to normal hygiene principles. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, take precautions.
Remember that pets can have this coronavirus on them and therefore they could be a minimal source of the virus to others if proper cleansing and sanitation techniques aren’t followed. Restrict contact with your pets if you have COVID-19, just like you would with people. It’s the safest, best way to combat this thing and ensure everyone around you remains healthy.
Our pets are lifelines in times like these and it can be challenging to consider distancing oneself, but it’s for the best in the long run as far as this coronavirus is concerned. Take care, be careful, be aware, and remember to stay positive. These are trying times, but we’ll get through this together – our furry family members included.