Can Dogs (Or Cats) Get Coronavirus? Tips To Keep You & Your Pets Safe

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Pug dog with face mask (Caption: Coronavirus & Dogs)According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a small number of pets worldwide, including dogs and cats, have been reported to be infected with COVID-19, mostly after close contact with infected people. However, there’s no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to humans. See the latest news on COVID-19 and pets and CDC recommendations for pet owners.

Did you know there’s a disease called canine coronavirus (CCV) that’s unrelated to this current outbreak in humans? We also give you information about that disease and how to help your pup recover.

Article Overview

Latest News On COVID-19 & Pets

At the end of August 2020, animal cases of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. had been confirmed in 15 dogs, 17 cats, and a handful of tigers, lions, and minks.

On August 27, The Canine Review (TCR) reported that five dogs and one cat died or were euthanized out of these cases. This data was shared by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) animal expert, Dr. Casy Barton Behravesh, at an online professional veterinarian convention in mid-August. Dr. Barton Behravesh said that the CDC has been investigating these cases “to identify the spectrum of disease, comorbidities, and underlying conditions of these animals.”

To date, these findings and case details haven’t been released. However, Dr. Barton Behravesh and colleague Dr. Ryan M. Wallace, a veterinary epidemiologist for CDC, told TCR in mid-August that they’re working on a paper for publication in a scientific journal that will present the findings and case details of these six pets who didn’t survive.

It’s important to note that a majority of COVID-19 cases in pets and other animals have produced mild to no symptoms, and we don’t yet know if these pets who died had any underlying health conditions. The CDC is still not recommending widespread testing for pets at this time.

In late Spring, Dr. Barton Behravesh told the Associated Press that there’s no need for pet owners to panic or rush to test their animals. “We don’t want people to be afraid of pets. There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people,” Behravesh said.

The first known confirmed case of COVID-19 in a pet (a dog) was in Hong Kong in late February. On April 22, federal agencies announced two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pet cats in the U.S. These were the first pets in the U.S. to test positive for the virus. Both had mild respiratory symptoms and fully recovered.

The first known confirmed case of a domestic dog with COVID-19 in the U.S. was announced in late April. The dog’s family was part of a Duke University study in which all family members and their pets were tested for the virus. The pug had mild respiratory symptoms and has made a full recovery. None of the family members who tested positive had severe symptoms.

CDC Recommendations For Pet Owners

The CDC recommends that you treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from possible infection by taking these steps:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

They also recommend these precautionary practices when interacting with pets:

  • Wash your hands often before and after interacting with your pet.
  • Minimize face licks and cuddles.
  • Bathe pets more frequently.
  • Keep your pet away from non-household members.
  • Follow social distancing practices for all when out for a walk.

And, if you’re infected with COVID-19, here’s what the CDC is recommending:

  • Avoid contact with pets — this includes snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
  • Have someone else take care of your pet while you’re sick.
  • If you must care for your pet while you’re sick, wear a face mask, and wash your hands before and after every interaction.

Is your dog ready for a pandemic quarantine?

Quarantine-Safe Activities With Your Dog

We put together some exciting ways to have a fun (and safe) time with your dog while staying socially distant. Adding a touch of brightness to each day is crucial to getting by right now.

  1. Host A Virtual Puppy Playdate – Why not host a puppy playdate with your neighbors or friends? Dogs need interaction with other pups and “co-woofers” just as much as we do. Post on your neighborhood Facebook group or forum (like Nextdoor) to gauge interest. Then meet via Google Hangout or Zoom.
  2. Do Down Dog With Your Dog (“Doga”) – Yes, that’s right! YouTube is full of yoga and meditation exercises you can do with your pup. We put together a video playlist of easy stretches and poses. Just don’t forget to breathe!
  3. Take A Walk – Get some fresh air and stretch your legs. But, keep your pet away from non-household members and follow social distancing practices when out and about.
  4. Relax Into Spa Time – Just like surfaces in your home, your pets may also carry germs in their fur. So, more frequent bath times are encouraged, even if you’re not showing symptoms. Wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet and minimize face licks and cuddles.
  5. Binge TV Cuteness With Your Pup – Watch dog movies on Netflix or the Animal Planet series “Too Cute” that showcases adorable and cuddly animals’ lives.
Pet Activity Ideas When Quarantined Graphic

Video: Pet Activity Ideas When Quarantined

Check out our tips in action featured on the news.

Ways To Help Other Pups In Needs

If you don’t have a dog or want to help others, here are a few additional ways to help less fortunate animals.

  1. Adopt (Or Foster) A Dog In Need – Shelters across the country are at capacity, and many are facing the decision to close their doors, creating an urgent need to find temporary (or permanent) places to live. What better way to shelter in place than with a puppy? Contact the animal service center in your area before visiting, as many are allowing visits by appointment only and may even be closed during regular business hours.
  2. Donate To An Animal Shelter – Even if you can’t adopt right now, shelters need supplies. Consider supporting shelters in your local area or cities where the outbreak is most severe.

Unlike humans, dogs have no clue what’s going on in the world with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) fears and uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean they should go unnoticed!

What Is Coronavirus In Dogs?

Brown dog coughing (caption: What Is Kennel Cough?)Canine coronavirus (CCV) is a highly contagious intestinal disease that only infects dogs — other animals and humans can’t catch it. It usually only lasts a few days and isn’t a serious health threat for adult dogs. Puppies, however, are more susceptible to complications.

In many cases, dogs catch canine coronavirus by oral contact with feces from an infected dog. They can also contract it by eating from contaminated food bowls or through direct contact with a sick dog. Your dog is more likely to catch CCV in places where multiple dogs gather or are overcrowded (like in kennels).

There’s also a respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) that dogs can catch. It’s related to kennel cough, is highly infectious in crowded spaces, and causes coughing, fever, and nasal discharge.

Symptoms

Dog's vomit in grass (caption: Dog Vomiting Causes, Symptoms and Treatment)Adult dogs can show little or no symptoms in many cases; however, you may notice mild vomiting and/or a few days of diarrhea in some cases. In rare cases, you may also see signs of mild respiratory problems (e.g., coughing or breathing difficulties).

Puppies can experience more severe symptoms and complications from CCV. They may have more prolonged bouts of diarrhea and, therefore, can suffer from dehydration. A rare but notable condition that puppies can develop from CCV is enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine), which can be life-threatening in severe cases. If you notice these symptoms in your puppy, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment

Most adult dogs recover from a CCV infection on their own without the need for veterinary intervention or medication. If your dog has diarrhea, your vet may suggest withholding food until 24 hours after diarrhea ceases and gradually reintroducing small amounts of food.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Rebound for dogs bottlesIt’s important to closely monitor dogs and puppies with diarrhea and make sure they’re staying hydrated. A severely dehydrated dog may need intravenous fluids. So make sure you give your dog plenty of fluids and electrolytes to rebalance what they may have lost from diarrhea.

Unflavored Pedialyte is safe for dogs. You can also give them Rebound, a dog and cat-friendly liquid formula that contains essential vitamins and minerals to help your pet recover from illness. If your dog isn’t interested in drinking, you may need to use a feeding syringe. In this case, you’ll want to make sure your dog is getting at least 15 mL per pound of body weight per day to maintain sufficient hydration.

Coronavirus scientific image (caption: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide To The Pandemic)What Are My Chances Of Contracting COVID-19?

See a detailed breakdown of coronavirus mortality rates in humans by age, gender, and health conditions in our COVID-19 Guide To The Pandemic on our sister site Safe Smart Living.

Not Sure What Your Dog Has?

If your dog has diarrhea and you’re not sure of the cause, read our comprehensive guide to diarrhea in dogs. We can help you narrow down the cause based on the type of diarrhea he’s having. And we also give you tips on how to keep your dog’s digestive tract healthy.

If your dog is suffering from respiratory problems, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing, there could be several culprits, including a cold, a dog flu, or kennel cough. Read these articles to learn about symptoms and treatments for each type of disease.

Are you worried that your dog could have coronavirus?

About The Author:

Sally holds a BA in English from James Madison University and began her 25-year writing career as a grad student at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She’s been a pet parent since college years (and spent her whole childhood with pets). Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Now as a parent of two teenagers, she’s made sure to raise her daughters to learn how to love and care for pets (and other animals) in the most responsible and loving ways. As a result, she and her daughters now have 5 rescued dogs and cats who essentially rule their home! Sally has also volunteered over the years to help raise funds for various animal nonprofit organizations.

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