You’re well aware of the current COVID-19 global pandemic and the toll it has taken on human lives! But what kind of threat is it to pets, in particularly dogs? Does your beloved pooch need to self-isolate from their paw-pals at the park or is this crisis far worse? We’ll answer your questions and explain whether your puppy and dog is safe from the virus and are you safe from your dog?

What is COVID-19?

A new coronavirus strain was first detected in 2019 and was named in February this year by the World Health Organisation as COVID-19; ‘CO’ standing for corona; ‘VI’ virus; ‘D’ disease and ’19’ the year disease was first reported. SARS-CoV-2 is the pathogenic agent that causes the disease COVID-19. It is transmitted human to human through either direct contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person talking, coughing or sneezing and also through touching surfaces contaminated with respiratory droplets and then touching the face area (eyes, nose or mouth). The main symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms can be either mild or potentially life threatening especially in the vulnerable such as elderly and people with low immunity and illness. There is currently no cure or vaccine and treatments are undergoing clinical trials.

Can dogs get COVID-19?

Yes they can, however there have only been a few reported cases globally where dogs have tested positive to the human strain COVID-19. There seemed to be a link between the infected dogs being in close contact with infected humans. Of the he dogs that did test positive most displayed no or mild symptoms. OiE (World Organisation for Animal Health) preliminary findings from experimental infection studies as well as from the natural reported cases have concluded so far that dogs have a low susceptibility to the disease, pigs have no susceptibility and cats have high susceptibility. The studies also showed no transmission of the disease from dog to dog. At the time of this blog release there have been no reported cases in Australia of dogs with COVID-19.

COVID-19 is not to be confused with other animal and canine coronaviruses that have already been around for a while. According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), “These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak.” They are also preventable with vaccines and good hygiene practices.

Can dogs transmit the COVID-19 disease to humans?

No, there is no evidence that dogs can spread the virus to humans and currently, there is limited information to prove otherwise. On ABC News, Professor Trevor Drew, director of the CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness in Geelong stated, “…there is absolutely no evidence that domestic animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19.”

Did COVID-19 initially spread from a canine?

Despite some speculation COVID-19 did not spread from a dog. According to the CDC the virus is likely to have originated from bats with the first reported human infections linked to a live animal market in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organisation concluded, “To date, there is not enough scientific evidence to identify the source of SARS-CoV-2 or to explain the original route of transmission to humans.”

Should I social distance my puppy/dog from other dogs?

Even though there is no evidence of the disease spreading from dog to dog it is recommended to distance your dog from other dogs, animals and pets outside the household. As cats have high susceptibility to COVID-19 it is best to try to keep them within the household as well.

Should I social distance my puppy/dog from other people?

Yes, it is best to distance your dog from other people outside of your household. We know this can be hard to do as puppy/dogs are very social and love to sniff and ‘say hello’ to other people, dogs and animals. We also know this can be especially challenging when you have just brought home a beautiful new puppy and want to show it off to family and friends.

Act in accordance with shire, state and federal restrictions and guidelines via your state government website. If you are required to to distance from others – then your dog should too. Read here for more information on Socially Distancing with Dogs. If some socialisation is allowed then it is ideal to ask visitors to wash their hands or wear gloves and also wear a face mask when petting your puppy, dog and or other pets.

Should I get my puppy/dog tested for COVID-19?

No, not at this stage. The CDC reiterates, “…routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended.” If your dog shows signs of any illness; whether it is COVID-19 or not; definitely contact your local Veterinary by phone.

If I have COVID-19 should I avoid contact with my pet dog?

Yes! Even though there have been only a few cases worldwide where dogs have contracted the virus from a human it is still best to avoid contact with your dog. The CDC is suggesting, “People with COVID-19 and in home isolation…to restrict interaction with household animals.”. COVID-19 is unpredictable, potentially life threatening and highly infectious among humans. We want to help limit its ability of spreading in general and even mutating into new strains that could potentially be devastating to the canine population or other animals. Treat your dog and pets as you would another human and self isolate or use personal protective equipment.

If you test positive to COVID-19 its best to leave your dog in the temporary care of someone you know whether that is a family member, friend, neighbour or even contact a local boarding kennel. If your dog has already been exposed to the disease then your puppy/dog needs to stay isolated with you. If this is the case then you must wear personal protective equipment around your puppy/dog. This includes a face mask and disposable gloves especially when feeding, grooming and playtime. Avoid kissing or sharing food with your puppy or dog as SARS-CoV-2 spreads through saliva and respiratory droplets. Wash and sanitise your hands regularly and keep your household clean and disinfected. You will also need to keep your dog outside in a secure yard if possible to keep your distance until you recover and are no longer infectious.

What happens if my dog gets sick?

Contact your local Veterinary Clinic immediately whether your dog has COVID-19 or not! Discuss a safe way to take your dog into the Vet that follows their disease control protocol.

* This is obvious but still worth mentioning – please don’t put a face mask on your dog even if they may be sick as it can restrict their breathing!

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