Dogs And Coronavirus – An Update (May 20, 2020)

In an earlier post, we detailed the findings that dogs could indeed catch coronavirus from humans but were not thought to be able to pass it on to people. We also emphasized that  some dog owners erroneously believe their dog has already been vaccinated against the corona virus because their immunization records say so. 

This is because coronaviruses cause a variety of illnesses in animals, including dogs. This particular coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is a new virus which is literally only a few months old. There is no vaccine available for humans or dogs and the dogs in question, even though they tested positive for the virus, did not become noticeably ill.

More recently, genetic analysis by virologists at the University of Hong Kong shows that the virus in these dogs came from their owners, according to the study published in Nature.

The authors emphasize there is no evidence that dogs can pass on the infection to people or even to other dogs, but it is not outside the realm of possibility so researchers will continue to look at the evidence. 

Dog owners who have tested positive for the virus should ideally not care for their dogs but if that is absolutely necessary, they should wear a mask when they are around their dogs. Owners who have tested positive should also avoid hugging, petting or sharing food with their dogs and should thoroughly wash their hands both before and after contact with their canine companions. 

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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