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Can dogs get Covid-19? We investigate...

Can dogs get Covid-19 - Woman in mask looking suspiciously at dog
(Image credit: Getty)

"Can dogs get Covid-19 and can they pass it on to me?" is a question that has been worrying pet owners across the world since the start of this pandemic, especially if they have free-roaming pooches. There have been a few reports in the press that canines are catching coronavirus from humans, including the UK's Prime Minster Boris Johnson's Jack Russell to Pomerians in Hong Kong, but is this something to be concerned about? 

Although the World Health Organisation says that evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic disease, as in one that can pass between humans and animals, all evidence suggests you are not at a significant risk from your domesticated dog, and it's not at risk from you. 

Can dogs get coronavirus?

Although there have been some worrying reports of dogs catching covid-19, under closer inspection it seems that the canines in question were just showing signs of being unwell. Put simply, most of the news articles regarding dogs catching coronavirus are based on the opinion of the owners, rather than an actual positive test.

However, a few news sites have carried stories saying that some canines have tested positive for COVID-19. Again, this is disputed by scientists. It is believed they tested positive due to breathing in contaminated air from infected humans or from carrying the disease on their fur. 

Dogs that have been reported to have 'died after a positive Covid test' had underlying serious health conditions that are far more likely to explain their illness. So far there have been no proven scientific reports of dogs becoming unwell from the human strain of coronavirus alone.

Despite no cases being reported, if you still would rather be safe than sorry and want to protect your dog from COVID-19, the CDC recommends the following:

- Do not let dogs interact with people or other animals outside the household.

- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.

- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

- If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.

Canine coronavirus symptoms

Although there is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as COVID-19, can affect dogs, there are certain strains of coronavirus that do. One is canine respiratory coronavirus – CRCoV – but this has been around since 2003, and there is no evidence at all that it can be passed to humans. CRCoV is an acute respiratory infection that can be detected by your dog displaying symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Typically, however, otherwise healthy dogs carry the canine version with no outward signs of distress, and it is quickly resolved.

Can I catch coronavirus from stroking my dog?

Although COVID-19 is known to survive on some surfaces for hours or even days, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states, “Although we know certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur or hair of pets.”

Of course, as pets can carry other germs and bacteria, it’s always good practice to wash your hands properly before and after interacting with your furry friend, whether you are sick or not. It’s also sensible to not touch your face while petting your dog.