Did you know dogs are not affected by COVID-19, even though they can catch other strains of the coronavirus? They do not need to be kept inside to stay healthy! Or, in the words of a popular internet meme, who let the dogs out? The CDC did.
In general, there have been an extremely small number of animals who have contracted COVID-19. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.
But why is this?
Dogs and Coronavirus
Dogs can catch coronavirus and COVID-19, but they are not affected by the specific COVID-19 strain. According to the American Kennel Club, two pet dogs in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19 after their owners became infected with the disease. However, both dogs showed no signs of being ill at all.
It is also rare for dogs to catch it from their owners, even if they’re exposed to the disease for days! In fact, those are the only two cases where dogs were infected in Hong Kong, the epicenter of the illness, as of March 25.
If you’re worried about your pet transferring the disease to another animal or human, be assured the chances of this happening are nonexistent. The World Health Organization states that, “There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
Remember: dogs are prone to coughing and wheezing. If you catch your dog showing signs of respiratory distress, contact your vet. While it most likely won’t be caused by COVID-19, it could be a more serious issue, such as kennel cough.
Can I Still Walk My Dog?
Yes! Dogs need physical and mental stimulation every day to stay healthy, which means walks are extremely important. They also help you stay healthy too!
Before you leash your dog up, be sure to check on your state’s regulations. As long as your area is safe and you can go outside without any risk of exposing yourself to the disease, then take your dog out for a walk. Take note of any local ordinances concerning curfews, even if that means adjusting your dog walking schedule.
For example, Arizona issued a Stay at Home order, meaning you should not travel except for essentials. If you do go outside, the state government recommends you wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose, avoid crowded areas at all times, and try to stick close to your home.
You should always observe safety measures like maintaining social distancing.
When you’re home from the walk, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after removing and disinfecting your mask and your dog’s leash.
Can Cats Catch Coronavirus?
Unfortunately, cats are more susceptible to COVID-19 than dogs. However, the symptoms seem to be less intense than in humans. As of April 14, the only three positive feline cases have come to the surface.
Two pet cats, one in Hong Kong and one in Belgium, and a tiger in the Bronx Zoo, have tested positive. However, several tigers and lions at the zoo showed symptoms including a dry cough, wheezing, and lack of appetite. All of the animals at the zoo are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who showed signs of COVID-19. All of the infected zoo animals are expected to recover.
The two pets were also exposed to the virus by their owners and recovered as well.
How Can I Protect My Cat or Dog?
There still is much to learn about how COVID-19 affects our pets. While it is believed that dogs do not exhibit any symptoms and cat’s only show mild respiratory distress, it is possible the symptoms may worsen over time. Until more is known about COVID-19, you should treat your pets like you would your human family members.
Do not let your pets interact with other humans and animals outside of their household. Keep them indoors (even if they’re primarily an outdoor pet!) when possible to prevent social interaction too.
Always use a leash when walking your cat or dog to maintain adequate social distancing.
Avoid dog parks and other public places where a large number of people or animals usually gather.
You should always protect your animals to avoid the spread of COVID-19. A small number of cases is not a cause for panic, but it should be a cause for concern. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.