We hadn’t intended to write about the coronavirus, but as the situation worsens across the globe, we’re getting more and more questions from readers.
Before we get started, we want to clarify exactly what we’re talking about when we say “coronavirus”.
According to the CDC there have been seven (commonly referred to) human coronaviruses since the 1960s. The most popular being the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes COVID-19.
In addition, there is a canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV). This is not the same as the novel coronaviru (SARS-CoV-2).
Can dogs get coronavirus?
We currently know of two instances of dogs testing positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
- A 17 year old Pomeranian was the first dog to test “weak positive” in Hong Kong on February 28, and was quarantined until March 14. This dog passed away on March 16.
- A German Shepherd in Pok Fu Lam area on Hong Kong tested positive on March 19.
Please note that the above cases were reported by the South China Morning Post and not confirmed by the CDC.
There has been some conjecture by the College of Veterinary Medicine at University of Illinois that “these canine patients were in close contact with infected people, who were likely shedding large quantities of the virus. This led to the virus being in the dogs’ noses” and not contracted by the dog itself.
As of April 22, 2020 the USDA confirms two pet cats have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Read more about the story here.
BREAKING: The USDA reports that two pet cats in New York have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. These are the first domestic pets in the U.S. to test positive. Both expected to recover.— Natasha Daly (@natashaldaly) April 22, 2020
*Note: there remains NO EVIDENCE that domestic animals can pass the virus to humans*
Can dogs spread coronavirus?
According to the latest information from the CDC, “Coronaviruses that infect animals can become able to infect people, but this is rare.”
They go on to say, “To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.”
Is it safe to pet my dog?
AVMA’s chief veterinary officer, Gail Golab, states that “Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.”
The CDC also confirms they don’t believe COVID-19 can spread from dog fur to people.
It is still recommended to wash your hands before and after petting your dog.
Is it safe to walk my dog?
This is mostly a question of local, state, and/or federal laws and ordinances.
As an example, on March 21 South Africa has banned dog walking beyond the limits of your yard.
For the most part, getting some exercise and sunshine with your dog is a good idea as long as you’re abiding by basic hygiene principles, such as washing hands (before and after walking), and social distancing.
What can I do to protect my dog from coronavirus?
Other than social distancing, we know of no additional recommendations at this time to protect your dog, unless you personally have COVID-19.
The AVMA recommends anyone testing positive for COVID-19 “limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.”
We did see some pictures on Twitter, as early as January 30, alleging that China was using masks to prevent spreading (or possibly even contracting) coronavirus.
We have not been able to confirm this occurred (outside of Twitter posts), or that it is necessary. It is likely that, if this did occur, masks were used as precautions due to the lack of data about animals and COVID-19.
However, according to the AKC, masks are not needed for dogs.
Where can you get the most up to date information?
We will do our best to maintain the most up to date information on this site, however, we recommend you consult the following sites first (as they are the true authorities):
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
- World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA)
- Buonavoglia et al. “Canine Coronavirus Highly Pathogenic for Dogs.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 12 Mar 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3291441/, Accessed 26 March 2020.