In early March 2020, the World Health Organization declared that the COVID-19 coronavirus is a global pandemic (coronavirus in dogs). In the panic over the spread of the virus, people are worried not only about their own health but the health of their dogs, cats, and other pets. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”
We have known for decades that dogs can contract coronaviruses, most commonly the canine respiratory coronavirus (not COVID-19). The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not believed to be a health threat to dogs.
Can Dogs Contract COVID-19?
While COVID-19 is not known to be a threat to dogs, dogs can test positive for the virus.
Can Dogs Spread COVID-19?
The World Health Organization states, “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. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.” Covering your face with a face mask can also help reduce the possibility of spreading droplets.
Since the pandemic began, 19 species of animals across 35 countries have contracted COVID-19, ranging from domestic cats and dogs to white-tailed deer and even gorillas, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). But people remain the biggest risk.
In Hong Kong, researchers found that while Syrian hamsters contracted the Delta variant, dwarf hamsters stored next to them in the shop did not. Similarly, some but not all of the Syrian hamsters contracted the virus, much in the same way as some members of the same family living in the same house might not get COVID-19 even when another does.
The virus also did not spread to rabbits, chinchillas, mice, and guinea pigs kept in the vicinity of the infected hamsters.
For now, however, humans remain the riskiest source of the virus — for both their fellow humans and for animals — even as COVID-19 precautions are lifted around the world.
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