Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Coronavirus. It’s all anyone is talking about. And in the midst of all the factual content there has also been a plethora of misinformation, especially when it pertains to our dogs. I felt it was important to write an article to help separate fact from fiction.
There have been many articles and stories talking about how dogs can give us coronavirus, starting with a few supposed cases in China. The articles make it seem as though the dog was actually a vector for the virus, but this is not the case.
Dr. Sarah Caddy, who is a viral immunologist from the University Of Cambridge explains that it’s reasonably unlikely that dogs can get coronavirus. There is no evidence it causes disease in pets as well as no evidence that dogs can spread the disease to us.
What can happen is that the virus can end up on the fur of a dog if and only if an infected person coughs or sneezes on the dog. So you need to look at dogs more like a dirty towel. You would wash your hands after touching a towel used by someone else, so the same hygiene precautions should be used for petting dogs. Now if your dog has not been in direct contact with any other person outside your home and no outside dogs, then you don’t need to take these hygiene precautions. This only applies if your dog is in contact with people or pets outside your home.
Another thing that has been happening a lot (too much!) recently, is dogs being brought into veterinary offices with burned paw pads after their owners washed their feet with hand sanitizer! Don’t EVER wash your dog’s paws with hand sanitizer, it will severely burn their paw pads. If you want to wash their paws, simply use a pet safe soap product.
You could wash your dog’s paws and fur constantly to remove any virus particles, but that is not very good for their skin and coat. It’s just as effective to simply wash your hands. If you know for sure your dog was coughed or sneezed on, then by all means, wash your dog, but if not, simply wash your hands after petting your dog.
If you have the virus, keep your pet with you during quarantine, and just don’t let him interact with other people or other dogs outside your home. If he is being walked outside your home, keep him on leash to avoid any contact with other people or dogs.
There is absolutely no reason to be giving up your pet. They are no more likely to spread the virus than any other object in your home.
This virus is being transmitted very effectively person to person, so animals likely play little role, if any in the grand scheme of things. If you’re worried about getting COVID-19, worry about your human contacts, not your dogs. Keep your dog away from high risk people, but otherwise, your risk is from exposure to people, not your dog.