As COVID-19 continues to ravage communities worldwide, people still have plenty of questions about the virus. Pet parents are no different as their concerns about COVID-19 and animal companions don’t make the news nearly as often as the pandemic’s human side. To help you navigate this time, BarxBuddy gathered information on this topic from expert websites, including the CDC and the FDA. We hope that the following will answer some of your questions, like can dogs get coronavirus and how you can help keep your pet healthy.

Can Your Dog Get Coronavirus?

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, experts agree on one thing: We still don’t know everything we need to know about the virus. We do know that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can spread between people when an infected person is in close contact (around 6 feet) with another person. It is believed that people can transmit the virus to their pets; however, available data indicates the rate of animals testing positive for COVID-19 remains very low. 

Most pets that contract the virus fail to have COVID-19 symptoms, while those that do have symptoms they’re generally mild. The CDC notes the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy (sluggish)
  • Coughing 
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Eye discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Although the risk of infection for COVID-19 appears to be low for our pets, they face a coronavirus specific to canines. 

What is Canine Coronavirus Disease?

Many types of coronavirus exist that cause a range of illnesses, from the common cold to more acute diseases like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and COVID-19. Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is an extremely infectious intestinal disease in dogs, primarily puppies. Unlike COVID-19, a respiratory illness, CCoV can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in an infected dog for a few days. 

Dogs typically pick up the canine coronavirus by eating infected fecal matter. A dog can become infected through direct contact with an infected dog or by consuming contaminated food. Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) reports that crowding and unsanitary conditions lend to CCoV transmission, similar to COVID-19. While it can take anywhere from one to four days after ingestion to show symptoms, the illness can last on average two to 10 days. 

Bacteria, parasites, and other viruses may cause secondary infections, prolonging a dog’s condition and recovery. Dogs may be carriers for CCoV for up to six months, or 180 days, after infection. Because antibiotics do not affect viruses, the typical treatment for canine coronavirus is to avoid feeding your pet until 24 hours after diarrhea stops then slowly introduce food in small amounts or whatever your veterinarian recommends. There are vaccines available for CCoV; however, it is not effective against COVID-19.

BarxBuddy PSA: If your dog has diarrhea for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by a loss of appetite or significant lethargy contact your veterinarian. 

How to Protect Your Dog From Coronavirus?

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 to your dog, the CDC offers a few recommendations:

  • Limit your pet’s interaction with people and other animals outside your household.
  • Avoid large gatherings of people.
  • Skip putting a mask on your dog, as they can make it difficult for them to breathe.
  • Don’t allow your pet to roam free outside.

If you believe you have COVID-19 or test positive for the virus, you can protect your pet:

  • Restrict contact between you and your pet (this means no doggie kisses, hugging, petting, or sleeping in the same bed).
  • Have another household member care for your dog until your doctor clears you.
  • If you don’t have someone who can watch your pet while you quarantine, wear a mask around your dog and wash your hands before and after interaction with them.

Can Cats Get Coronavirus?

Like dogs, our feline friends can get COVID-19, but again, the risk is relatively low. With that said, regardless of species, if you think your pet has the coronavirus call your vet to discuss the next steps. Don’t take your pet to the vet if you have COVID-19; and if you have COVID-19, disclose that to your vet. Although routine COVID-19 testing isn’t recommended for pets, your veterinarian might perform one if your dog or cat displays symptoms and has had contact with an infected person.

For pets with COVID-19, here are a few tips according to Healthline:

  • Follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions.
  • Avoid taking your pet to public places.
  • Isolate your pet in a room away from other pets and humans.
  • Wash/disinfect toys and food and water bowls after use.
  • Clean up your pet’s waste (use gloves). 
  • Wash plush toys and bedding with warm water and laundry soap. Yes, you can wash it with your laundry.
  • Track symptoms and report to your vet if symptoms have worsened, a new sign has appeared, or your pet is having difficulty breathing.

Your pet can resume his or her happy life once:

  • Your vet gives you and your pet the all-clear, or
  • He or she has not shown symptoms for a minimum of 72 hours (3 days), and
  • It’s been a minimum of 14 days after your pet’s last positive test OR your pet received a negative follow-up test.

Take care, be safe, stay healthy.

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