Can humans give their pets COVID-19? The short answer from local vets is that pets cannot transmit the virus although they can “carry” it by brushing against countertops, door knobs, etc. and their humans can then touch them and come into contact with it.
“If your COVID-19-positive buddy coughs on your dog or rubs his nose and then pets your dog, it’s then on your dog’s coat. This virus can live in the environment and we don’t know for how long. The bottom line is that if you don’t expose yourself or your dog to people with COVID-19, you won’t contract it,” said Dr. Roy Hadden of Valley Animal Hospital in Waitsfield.
Given current social distancing guidelines advising people to stay 6 to 10 feet apart, most dogs (on leashes) would presumably be 6 to 10 feet away from other people should people out walking their dogs cross paths.
Dr. Karen Anderson from Mad River Veterinary Service in Fayston provided information from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) that points out that the CDC has received no reported cases of dogs in the United States becoming sick with COVID-19.
“To date, the only pets incidentally exposed to COVID-19 that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 are two pet dogs in Hong Kong and two pet cats (one in Belgium, the other in Hong Kong). In each case, the pet was in the care of and had close contact with a person who had been confirmed to have COVID-19. Only in the case of the cat in Belgium was there a suggestion of the animal showing clinical signs of disease and, in that case, other diseases and conditions that could have caused those same signs of illness were not ruled out and there are also questions about how samples demonstrating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 were collected and evaluated. That cat recovered,” the AVMA reports on its website.
The AVMA advises people ill with COVID-19 to restrict contact with their pets as they would restrict contact with other people.
“One could say one could elect not to have others pet your dogs out of an abundance of caution. I haven’t read anything regarding studies on viral survival times on pet hair,” Anderson said.
Her staff is asking pet owners if anyone in the house has signs or symptoms or has been exposed to anyone who has quarantined for travel prior to entering her offices. Additionally, they’re washing their hands after every patient and avoiding hand-to-face contact, she said.
The World Health Organization is looking into several cases of cats becoming ill with COVID-19 after a study published on the website of the Journal of Science found that cats and ferrets can become ill with COVID-19. That study and others point to cats becoming infected from humans.
Beyond COVID-19, spring is here and so are ticks and the need to protect humans and canines from them. Hadden recommends that flea/tick medicines be used year-round now, versus spring through late fall, and suggests that heartworm medications start May 1.