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Can dogs catch coronavirus?

Since the outbreak of coronavirus (now known as COVID-19), health organisations have been working tirelessly to improve our understanding of this new virus, and provide us with information and advice on how we can protect ourselves and our pets.

Article highlights

Can my dog become unwell from COVID-19?
No. There have been no cases of dogs becoming unwell from this new type of coronavirus.

If your dog is unwell then it is very unlikely that COVID-19 is the cause of their illness, but it is still important that you contact your vet to find out what is causing their illness.

Can dogs transmit this new coronavirus?

The current pandemic is a result of human to human transmission and there is no evidence of animal to human transmission. The alleged animal source of virus remains under investigation.

The World Organisation for Animal Health says that while there is a possibility for some animals, including dogs, to become infected through contact with already infected human, there is no evidence the virus can spread from animals to humans. Studies are underway to help us better understand how the infection spreads in animals

If dogs aren’t transmitting COVID-19, why are there a small number of cases of dogs positive?
There have been a very small number of reports of dogs testing positive for the novel coronavirus following contact with infected humans. However, those animals didn’t show signs of the disease and it is believed they tested positive due to breathing in contaminated air from infected humans or carrying the disease on their fur.

As with any surface, if someone with COVID-19 touches, sneezes or coughs on a dog, the virus could temporarily contaminate them. Although we don’t know how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, scientists think that it could range from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surface, how warm it is and levels of humidity.

What precautions should I take with my own dogs?
If possible try to avoid them licking your face. Bath your dog often and regularly wash your hands with soap and water after touching them. This advice is generally good practice as dogs can sometimes carry common bacteria which can also be passed on to humans.

Never put alcohol-based hand wash or disinfectants on your dog, as this could irritate their skin or may be poisonous if it’s licked.

Are there any precautions I should be taking with other people’s dogs?
Although social distancing rules are changing, we still recommend avoiding touching or petting dogs that live outside of your household if possible.  If you do pet a stranger’s dog, remember to clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand gel afterwards, or wash your hands with soap and warm water.

If I’m quarantined can I ask a friend or neighbour to walk my dog?
If you are at home because you have shown signs of coronavirus (persistent cough or high temperature etc.) then you should keep your dog in as well and only exercise them in the house or garden. If you live by yourself this should be for 7 days from when your symptoms started, or if you live with others then this should be for 14 days. This is not ideal, but you need to keep yourself and others well and safe.

Can dogs catch other types of coronavirus?
Coronavirus are a large group of viruses and there are many different types. The new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently being passed between humans and there is no evidence that it affects dogs. There are certain strains of coronavirus that do affect dogs (such as Canine Respiratory Coronavirus), but these are different from COVID-19 and cannot be passed to humans.

If this new Coronavirus originally came from animals should I be worried about my dog?
It is thought that COVID-19 originated in an animal market in China, but source of the infection is still under investigation. Although it is believed that the virus jumped from an animal to a human, it does not mean that all animals can spread the virus. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through dogs.

Guidance for dog owners while in self isolation 

Read out hints and tips on how to care for your dog during the coronavirus pandemic here.

Alternativly, Agria, the Kennel Club’s pet insurance company, working with Carolyn Menteith, a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor have developed some guidance of what dog owners can do with their dogs while in self isolation. This guidance includes how owners can use the opportunity while self isolating to improve the bond with their dog, such as interactive games owners can play with their dogs. For further information please click here.