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Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?

Learn about COVID-19 and dogs.

March 10, 2020. Updated, May 8, 2020.

Currently, the world is experiencing an outbreak of a new (novel) coronavirus. It causes respiratory illness in humans, was first identified in China, and has spread to nearly 70 other locations. Its name is SARS-CoV-2, and its nickname is COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that include many illnesses, including forms of the common cold in humans.

Where Is Covid-19 From?

Coronaviruses are quite common. It's a large family of viruses that can affect humans, dogs, cats, bats, and other animals. Most of the time, coronaviruses are species-specific, meaning that each one affects an individual species only. There is a strain of coronavirus that commonly affects dogs, but while human coronaviruses are respiratory illnesses, the canine version causes digestive issues. There is an effective vaccination for that coronavirus.

There are times when a coronavirus can jump from animals to humans and then spread between humans. That is the case with this virus, which began in bats and then spread to an unknown type of animal before jumping to infect people. The first human cases were identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. It isn't known with certainty how the leap was made to humans, but the virus is now considered to be spreading from human to human (community spread).

For up-to-date news on animals and COVID-19, including information about the positive tigers at Bronx Zoo and the American Veterinary Medical Association's interpretations and recommendations based on current data, check here: AVMA COVID-19 Info.

What Is the Severity of COVID-19?

Most people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have mild illness, with fever and respiratory signs like coughing and sneezing, and some are severely affected. Those most likely to develop a severe form of the illness are the elderly and people with previous underlying conditions, especially immune system compromises and lung diseases.

While the death rate for COVID-19 has not been determined with certainty at this time due to a lack of widespread testing for the condition, it currently hovers around 3.7%.

One main concern with COVID-19 is its fairly high mortality rate combined with its novelty. That means no one has immunity to it because it's a new virus.

Can Dogs Get COVID-19?

At this time, there have been two dogs that tested positive for COVID-19. However, neither of those dogs showed any symptoms of the condition. Health authorities do not have any evidence that the virus can spread from humans to dogs or vice versa.

There are two possibilities for the positive test results in the two dogs. On is that the dogs simply had the virus on their noses or in their nasal cavities when they were swabbed because they picked it up in the environment from their infected people. The other is that they were infected but the virus' RNA doesn't replicate in dogs, so it doesn't sicken them. Carrier isn't the right word for that situation because that implies a non-symptomatic dog that can spread the disease, and there's no evidence they can spread it.

The genome sequence of COVID-19, according to scientists, looks more like the coronaviruses affecting wild animals than the ones affecting dogs. Additionally, other outbreaks of coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, did not affect domestic dogs.

While, at this time, there is no indication that dogs can become sickened by or spread COVID-19, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will update this article as needed.

Note: Some cats around the world, including tigers at the Bronx Zoo and house cats in New York, have tested positive for COVID-19 and shown respiratory signs. However, authorities say there is no evidence cats can spread the virus to their owners and say it's likely the transmission occured the other way around.

Precautions for Dogs if Humans in the Home Get COVID-19

At this time, health officials recommend that, if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, they treat their family dog like a person in the home and keep their distance. Keeping hands washed and not snuggling with the dog during the illness is probably the best idea, according to the CDC and other health organizations.

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