Due to the overwhelming amount of information circulating out there on the new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, many dog owners are confused. Some have even looked at their dogs veterinary immunization records and see that their canine companion has already received a coronavirus vaccine so they believe their dog is protected.

First of all, the coronavirus that is currently sweeping the globe is a new virus and has only been in existence for a few months. The formal name of the virus is SARS-Co-2 and the disease it causes is called COVID-19.

There is no vaccine currently available for this particular coronavirus, although different labs in many different countries are working to develop one for us in humans. There are many, many types of coronaviruses in existence and some of them cause various illnesses, such as respiratory and gastrointestinal disease, in animals, including dogs. Your dog may well have been vaccinated against one of these viruses.

Dog owners became further confused when they read reports of a dog in Hong Kong who tested “weakly positive” for the virus, fueling speculation that dogs could catch the virus from people who had the illness.

Here’s what we know right now: According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta, there is no evidence to suggest dogs (or cats) can become infected with this new coronavirus. Further, the CDC goes on to state, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

Here is more information directly from the website of the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign:

If experts believe it is unlikely for a dog to get COVID-19, how did a dog test “positive” in Hong Kong?

This canine patient was in close contact with an infected human, who was likely shedding large quantities of the virus. This led to the virus being in the dog’s nose. There is no indication that the dog is sick or showing any symptoms. Authorities say they will continue to quarantine and test the dog to evaluate if the canine patient becomes ill. In short, there was coronavirus on the dog just like there was coronavirus on the floor in the room but the dog was not infected or diseased.

If you or a family member were to develop COVID-19, you should isolate yourself away from your dogs and have someone else care for them if at all possible. If you absolutely must care for your dog, wash your hands before and after contact and wear a mask.

While the the CDC does not believe your dog can become directly infected with COVID-19, it appears he could become a carrier of the virus, so these precautions are important. Of course, if you or a household member develops COVID-19, consult with your veterinarian for further advice.

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