Small Pug sleeping on its front paws.

Can My Dog or Puppy Catch the COVID-19 Coronavirus?

As we learn more about SARS-COV-2, better known as COVID-19, many people have wondered whether or not their dogs or puppies are safe from coronavirus.

While there is a separate and non-COVID-19 coronavirus that can affect dogs, it is usually an enteric disease, causing diarrhea and vomiting – quite unlike the symptoms of the current outbreak we’re seeing in the world today. It is extremely infectious and mostly affects puppies.

There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses that affect dogs – antibiotics do not work on viruses and hospitalization for supportive care (intravenous fluids, nutritional support) can sometimes be necessary.

In cats, their own non-COVID-19 coronavirus can cause enteric disease – some forms can mutate to cause a more harmful Feline Infectious Peritonitis. These viruses are known as alphacoronaviruses. The SARS-COV-2 is a betacoronavirus.

Transfer of COVID-19 to Dogs and Puppies

In short, veterinarian professionals believe pet coronaviruses stay with their species and human coronaviruses are much the same.

That said, there was one reported case in Hong Kong – an elderly Pomeranian whose family was ill. The dog tested weakly positive for the COVID-19 virus but had no symptoms. The test was repeatable, so it was likely real.

It is believed that the virus cannot replicate in dogs. People are watching closely, but it is not believed that transfer of COVID-19 to dogs and puppies is a real concern.

Although the current outbreak can be traced to the sale and consumption of wildlife products in China, COVID-19 is a human-to-human transmission.

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19: Protecting Yourself & Your Pets

  • Wash your hands! It’s been said a million times, but it’s because science says handwashing works to reduce the risk of exposure. When you don’t have access to soap and water, opt for hand sanitizers with at least 70% alcohol content.
  • Try not to touch your face. It is believed that COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets – so touching your face, nose, and mouth allows the virus to enter. It is not definitively known if aerosol or fecal transmission is a significant component of spread.
  • Do not allow your pets to lick your face. Or worse, your mouth! This is for everyone’s sake! Completely aside from COVID-19, dogs do lick their anus to groom and also drink out of toilets.
  • Keep surfaces clean. No one is exactly sure how long the coronavirus COVID-19 can live on a surface, so keeping things clean and sanitized is important. Follow cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Be prepared. Whether you choose to social isolate or are forced to quarantine, be sure to have pet medication and food for at least a couple of weeks on hand. There is no evidence that dog food carries the virus.

Protecting Your Animals if You Test Positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus

If you test positive for COVID-19, it’s recommended that another family member provide care for your dog.

Limit contact with your pets. This includes snuggling, kissing, and letting your pet lick you. Your dogs should always be on leash for walks.

More Information About Coronavirus in Dogs and Puppies

For more information about coronavirus in animals and how to practice pet safety, please visit:
World Organisation for Animal Health
World Small Animal Veterinary Medical Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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