COVID-19 Coronavirus & Dogs

Since its outbreak in December 2019 in China, Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has become one of the most notorious threats humankind has faced in recent times. Unpredictable in nature, highly contagious and originating from an unknown source, it has been puzzling scientists and medical experts to a great extent, changing the face of today’s world. Yes, we are all worried about our safety and health risks it poses, but is there a reason to be alarmed when our furry friends are in question?

Can dogs get coronavirus is probably one of the most common questions dog owners wrack their brains about these days. According to the World Health Organization and The World Organization for Animal Health, pet parents can sigh a breath of relief, as there is no evidence that COVID-19 affects either canines or other animals.  

However, specific recommendations on how to behave when pet pups are concerned in the time of global pandemic are to be followed. Despite scarce information and frequent updates, we have highlighted the key points you should be familiar with.

Can Canines Get Coronavirus?

Some viruses from the family of coronaviruses can be picked up and transmitted by dogs. Still, based on what we know up to the present day, COVID-19 will not jeopardize your best buddy’s health. Experts claim that this new type of virus has not been detected in canines, which is encouraging news indeed. 

So far, Hong Kong has seen a single instance of a canine tested positive for coronavirus. The pup came from a household of a person diagnosed with COVID-19. According to experts in the field, a positive test was probably the result of a contaminated environment, rather than the dog developing the disease themselves

sad dog is waiting to go outside

What is Canine Coronavirus?

No matter how horrifying it is to only mention this type of virus today, the incidence and symptoms of Canine Coronavirus are not nearly as intimidating as it is the case with its version present in humans.

Definition

A Coronaviridae family is a large group of viruses, many of which can be found in animals. A form of one such virus can affect dogs and is known as Canine Coronavirus or CCoV. It is a type of intestinal infection, which can lead to severe symptoms and cause a great deal of discomfort to a pup.

It should be noted that it is highly contagious and transmits exceptionally quickly. Luckily, the disease itself does not last for too long. Small puppies are most likely to pick up this infection; thus, dog owners need to take preventative measures timely.

Transmission

The odds of picking up the Canine Coronavirus are considerably higher in unsanitary conditions and larger crowds. Most pooches get infected through direct contact with contaminated feces. Direct contact with an infected pooch or eating from a contaminated bowl is also how your furry friend can get infected. 

The disease will start showing first symptoms after one to four days, which is the typical length of its incubation period. They will get less intense and disappear after up to ten days. A pup carrying the virus will be able to pass it to other dogs for as long as 180 days after infection.

Treatment

There is no such thing as an effective treatment for this virus.

If you recognize the symptoms of the disease in your pup, restrain from giving them too much food. It is advisable to get them fasting for 24 hours and start reintroducing food gradually after that. If you suspect your pet of being dehydrated, take them to a vet who will introduce an intravenous fluid treatment.

THe CCoV often combines with secondary infections. If this is the case with your furry buddy, adequate antibiotic therapy may be helpful.

Vaccine

It is possible to vaccinate a dog against Canine Coronavirus. However, this vaccine is not suitable for all canines. The factors that determine whether your pet pup is eligible to get it are related to their general lifestyle and the estimated level of risk.

We should keep in mind that the vaccine works only for the  CCoV type, and does not provide protection against COVID-19.

For more information check our complete guide to puppy vaccinations.

pomeranian dog wearing protecting mask

Can Your Dogs Get Infected With COVID-19?

According to veterinarians, there is no reason to be overly worried when dogs and COVID-19 are in question. Not much is known about the new virus which is spreading across the planet at an alarmingly rapid rate. However, there have been no cases of canines being affected by it.

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through direct contact with droplets coming from an infected person when they cough, sneeze or even talk. That probably accounts for the fact that a single pet pup in Hong Kong was positive when tested for COVID-19. Spending time around their infected owner probably led to a positive test result, though a pup never got sick.

Can Dogs Transmit COVID-19 to People?

Reports issued by the World Health Organization state that your pet is not likely to transmit you COVID-19. Based on the evidence available so far, there are no records of cats, dogs, or any other pets transmitting the virus.

People are at the highest risk of getting infected by being directly exposed to a person carrying the virus. Crowds and improper hygiene increase the potential chances of contracting the disease. Proper hygiene, i.e. thoroughly washing your hands is one of the most efficient ways of preventing the possible infection.

Fact About the Pomeranian in Hong Kong Who Tested Positive

Most dog owners got pretty upset when the news about a canine in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19 hit the headlines. That raised numerous questions, such as whether dogs are in danger of getting infected, whether we should quarantine them, and whether it is possible to get infected by your pet.

Interestingly enough, a Pomeranian Dog whose test results were labelled as ‘’weak positive’’, never got the disease or showed any symptoms. The pooch was put in quarantine and observed. 

Experts strongly believe that the exposure to an environment shared with a COVID-19 positive owner led to this ‘’weak positive’’ test result – the only one so far in canines.

How Pet Owners Can Protect Their Dogs From Coronavirus

In a minor number of cases, coronavirus in dogs can take a severe form, but a few preventative measures can significantly minimize the chances of infection. In this section, we look at several ways of protecting your beloved friend.

1. Wash Your Hands Properly

Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus and its pandemic, experts have been emphasizing the importance of proper hygiene. It is seen as one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of the disease. By washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, you reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted.

As we have already mentioned, COVID-19 does not affect pets, cannot be transmitted to or by people’s best friends. Yet, for the sake of their safety too, wash your hands much more often.  Do it especially after the contact with your pet, their food and toys.

2. Stock Up on Essential Pet Supplies

You have recently paid one of your regular calls to a pet store to get your furry buddy’s favorite food. But you were shocked to find it all gone – along with many other types of dog food products. The rapid spread of coronavirus urged many dog owners to stock up on their pet’s supplies, in many cases to an unreasonable level.

It is, however, advisable to prepare a basic emergency kit for your best buddy, and always keep it at hand. It should consist of your canine’s medication for at least a month-long period, food supplies sufficient for at least two weeks, as well as necessities like litter.

3. Limit Contact If You Are Infected

If you have been tested positive for coronavirus, there are strict rules and procedures you are obliged to follow. These include isolating yourself from both people and pets. Though COVID-19 has not been detected in canines, it is recommended to spend some time away from your furry pal.

If possible, the best idea is to have limited or no contact with your beloved friend at all.

4. Record Your Pet's Information

In case of an emergency, it is essential to be able to identify your pet. It is hence recommended that all dogs wear collars. These should contain accurate, up-to-date info. That includes your canine’s name, the owner’s phone number and address, as well as the information on specific medical conditions. 

If you are transporting your pal in a carrier, it should contain your pup’s name as well as your contact information.

5. Choose an Emergency Caregiver

If you are diagnosed or suspected of having picked up this virus, try to find a caretaker for your pet dog. It can be a person from your family, a neighbour or a friend. Until more information about the virus is available, you should take these precaution measures.

If, however, you have no choice but to look after your pet yourself, pay more attention to hand hygiene and try to wear a mask most of the time.

image of dog sleeping during quarantine

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there precautions for dogs that have been imported from high-risk areas?

There is a list of requirements stated by the CDC and USDA that every animal has to meet before they are allowed to enter the USA. Once an animal has been imported into the country, it should be carefully observed over some time, to recognize potential signs of illness.

If a canine you have imported from a high-risk area develops the symptoms of any diseases, seek professional help and visit your vet. These visits to a vet’s office should be announced in advance by letting your vet know about an imported animal with disease symptoms.

Is clinical testing for dogs available in the US?

Experts are working on developing tests and testing procedures for animals when COVID-19 is concerned. Currently, the US does not carry out any clinical tests on animals. We expect that the updated information related to this question will be available shortly. 

It is useful to mention that so far, no animals have been tested positive for SARS CoV-2. Bats were the only exception, as it is believed that they were the source of this particular form of the virus.

What should pet owners do if they become infected?

If you contract coronavirus, the first step you have to take is to isolate yourself from the other members of your household, including your pets. You should make sure to find a person who will take proper care of your furry pal until your recovery process is over. 

An emergency kit containing your pet’s food, medication, and supplies is exceptionally convenient in situations like this one. 

Conclusion

A sudden spread of Coronavirus has raised many questions, causing a great deal of confusion, worry and concern about our health. Dog owners can hardly remain calm and composed when the wellbeing of their furry friends is in question. A case of a Pomeranian dog tested positive for COVID-19 was both a puzzling and intimidating news.

Still, the information we are updated with by medical experts is quite encouraging. COVID-19 has not been found to affect canines, which made dog parents feel slightly more at ease. 

The world we share with other people, our pets and other animals is facing one of the greatest challenges in the modern age. By behaving responsibly, we look after both ourselves and our animal friends. It is the only way to bring this threatening situation to an end, to everyone’s benefit.

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Angie Hill is a freelance writer, editor and dog lover based in Atlanta, GA. She studied English Language and literature in Boston, MA and she enjoys spending most of her free time with her puppies Labrador Nora and Boxer Ernie.