Can Your Dog Get Coronavirus, and Can it Spread to You?

Pet Care


April 21, 2020

It can generally go without saying that people do not want their pets to get sick. Watching your pet, often a companion of many years, become ill and suffer is something that is very emotionally taxing. Plus, pet sickness can be expensive and time-consuming to treat, depending on what kind of sickness the pet is infected with. Because of this, people want to do what they can to make sure that their pet gets sick as little as possible.

While there are plenty of things that can be done, there are some situations that are simply unavoidable. For instance, pets can pick up diseases just like any other person can through interaction with an infected animal. One of the biggest concerns on people’s minds in current time is whether or not your pets can pick up coronavirus, or more specifically, the strain of Covid-19.

To understand what your pet’s risks are, and whether or not you can get the virus from your pet, you first need to understand what the coronavirus is, what makes Covid-19 different, and how you can tell if your pet is sick. From there, you can begin to learn about how to keep your pets safe from the virus and how to treat them if they do become sick.

First things first, you need to focus on the pet you have, as dogs and cats are affected differently by the virus. Most cats are indoor animals, meaning that there is very little chance that it will pick up coronavirus from an infected animal outside. Dogs, on the other hand, interact with many animals when they are outside. This greatly increases the chances that your dog will pick up the virus. Because of this, you should understand how coronavirus and dogs interact as well. This will help you settle yourself from wondering can dogs get coronavirus Covid-19.

What Is Coronavirus and Covid-19?

It is important to first understand that while people use coronavirus and Covid-19 interchangeably, they are technically two different things. Coronavirus refers to the specific type of virus as a whole, and there are many different subtypes of them. Covid-19 refers to the novel strain of coronavirus that has become a global pandemic. Covid-19 is a type of coronavirus, but not all cases of coronavirus are caused by Covid-19.

Coronavirus is unique in the sense that, among the different strains, there are some that infect people and some that infect animals. There are some strains that infect only specific types of animals, such as camels, cattle, and bats, while other strains might infect dogs or cats. There are some strains that can be transmitted between both humans and animals and back again, although these are significantly rarer than the previous two types. It is also important to note that coronavirus, as a group, is not a new thing. It has been well-documented in animals for plenty of years now, especially on farms where it can quickly spread.

Because of this, there are many elements of coronavirus that are known, such as the fact that they commonly cause cold-like illnesses in people and that the infections caused by it are primarily respiratory. Some major examples of this are the SARS and MERS outbreaks that happened. These were both caused by the coronavirus and they are respiratory-centric diseases.

Covid-19 refers to the novel strain of coronavirus that has caused a global pandemic. The name is an acronym itself. “Co” refers to corona, “vi” refers to virus, “d” refers to disease, and “19” refers to the fact that the first cases of it appeared in late 2019. In all, this stands for coronavirus disease of 2019, which is exactly what this strain will be known for.

The reason this strain became as much of a problem as it has is that it has a long incubation period. The incubation period is a length of time where the virus “prepares” itself to attack the body, showing no symptoms, but still being contagious. This means that people who are infected will unknowingly spread the virus before symptoms begin showing, increasing the spread.

Covid-19 spreads through respiratory droplets. This means that coughing, sneezing, and talking all spread the virus. Primarily, this virus is only problematic for the elderly and people with underlying immune, cardiovascular, and respiratory conditions. In otherwise healthy people, Covid-19 presents much like the flu. In people who are at risk, Covid-19 presents as a very severe respiratory infection that can lead to other issues, such as pneumonia.

With all of this being said, you might begin to wonder that, because of the long incubation period, if your dog might unknowingly pick up Covid-19 when you take your dog out for a walk. After all, there’s a good chance that your dog will see other people and animals, and these people might want to pet your dog. If these people are infected, is there a chance that the virus could be passed on to your dog? This also raises the question of if your dog is infected, will you become infected too? To understand how to deal with this, it is important to understand how coronavirus and Covid-19 affect dogs.

Can Your Dog Get Coronavirus?

There are two questions to be asked here: can dogs get coronavirus, and can dogs get Covid-19? The first question is very easy to answer. Dogs can, and have, contracted strains of the coronavirus before. This is well documented and there are plenty of strains that solely infect dogs and cats. However, there’s a good chance that the main question is whether or not your dog can catch Covid-19 specifically, as this is the virus that is on everyone’s mind.

Experts do not believe that Covid-19 poses a threat to dogs. Unfortunately, because this virus is new, not everything is known about it. There have only been a few tests done on this matter. The largest test, so far, is one done in Hong Kong. The tests were done on 17 dogs (and eight cats) on March 25th, and they showed that only two dogs were infected with the virus. The two dogs who were infected were both owned by people who were infected with the virus as well, and these research experts believe that these dogs were “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission,” implying that the sick owners passed the infection onto their dogs. Before you begin to panic about your own dog’s health, it is important to note that these two dogs did not show any signs of illness, but rather they just tested positive for the virus.

On a similar note, most experts believe that Covid-19 is only passed on through human interaction, and that one cannot become infected from an animal (such as pets, livestock, or wild animals).

In the end, this means that, on a very technical level, your dog can get coronavirus and Covid-19, but it will not suffer in any way from Covid-19 specifically, as it seems to really only affect people.

What Does Coronavirus Look Like in Dogs?

Because just about all dogs that have even tested positive for Covid-19 have been asymptomatic, if you are worried, you should focus on learning about coronavirus as a type of virus, and how the canine-specific strains can affect your dog. The main strain you will want to be informed about are known as canine coronavirus strains. This coronavirus strain presents itself as a highly contagious intestinal infection, rather than a respiratory one.

The most prominent sign is going to be diarrhea, specifically yellow to orange in color. Dogs can experience other symptoms as well, including a loss of appetite, vomiting, and occasionally a fever. Once caught, almost all dogs are susceptible to this virus. Treatment can only be done by a vet, meaning that you will have to schedule a vet visit. The way that vets take care of your dog will include hydration (to offset the diarrhea), measures to restore appetite, and measures to help with vomiting or fever, if applicable. The virus itself is often taken care of with a vaccine.

How Can You Keep Your Dog Safe?

If you want to play things safe and make sure that your dog doesn’t even have the chance to pick up Covid-19, then there are a few precautions that you can take. For one, you should continue taking your dog out on walks outside, as sitting around inside will be far more detrimental to your dog than Covid-19 could be. While you are doing that, you should make sure to wash your hands both before and after touching your pet. Any pet supplies you have should stay out of the kitchen.

Because Covid-19 is spread through respiratory droplets, you should take measures to keep those away from your dog. This means covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. If your dog is close to you when you need to do this, consider also turning your head away, just to be safe. You should also make sure to wash your hands after you do this and use hand sanitizer when you need to. Around the house, you can use disinfectants and cleaning supplies that have been approved to combat Covid-19 specifically.

Do not ever try to make your dog wear a mask of any kind. These masks often do not protect the dogs because they were designed for the human head, not a canine head. Additionally, these masks can cause other breathing issues for your dog, especially if you have a dog that is prone to breathing issues (such as a flat-faced dog). Instead, simply make sure that you are practicing the best hand hygiene you can.

If you know you are infected with the virus, you will have to make the unfortunate choice to stay away from your dog entirely, if you want to prevent it from picking up the infection at all. In some cases, this might mean that you have to find somewhere else for your dog to stay.