Can My Dog Get COVID?
Here’s what you need to know 😷💉
If you’ve had COVID recently and you have a dog, you might be wondering, “Can dogs get COVID?”
After all, being sick is no fun, and you don’t want your pup to get sick, too.
We spoke to Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon, to find out everything you need to know about COVID and dogs.
Can dogs get COVID?
Dogs can get COVID if they interact with a person who’s infected with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and some cases have been documented in both dogs and cats around the world.
“Dogs can potentially develop COVID-19, but it is rare and not something the average owner should spend time worrying about,” Dr. Simon told The Dodo. “Only a small number of positive tests have been reported in the canine population internationally. These all happened after the pets were in close contact with people suffering from the symptoms of COVID-19.”
What about the Omicron variant?
The Omicron variant is much more transmissible among humans than previous variants, so you might be concerned that your pup can more easily catch it, too.
While researchers have found some cases of Omicron in dogs, the good news is that none of the pets had any symptoms, and the amount of virus detected was very low.
What about the BA.5 variant?
There haven’t been any reports of dogs catching the new BA.5 variant as of now.
Symptoms of COVID in dogs
While it’s not common for dogs to contract COVID, you should still know what the symptoms are and what to do if your pup does catch it so you can be prepared.
Dogs don’t seem to get seriously sick from COVID. In most cases, dogs who have COVID only experience mild symptoms (or no symptoms at all) and fully recover.
“Dogs who test positive for the virus will generally have no signs or mild signs, which can include sneezing, a runny nose and coughing,” Dr. Simon said. “Some will also develop a fever, which can make them feel under the weather.”
If you or someone else in your house contracts COVID, you should look out for these symptoms in your dog:
If you think your dog might have COVID, contact your vet. (But you shouldn’t take your dog to the vet yourself if you have COVID, since you’ll need to quarantine yourself. In this case, have a neighbor, friend or family member help.)
Can you get COVID from a dog?
The risk of getting COVID from your dog (or any animal) is actually very low.
“It is accepted that the risk of a dog making a person unwell is exceedingly low,” Dr. Simon said. “Those who are old and/or immunocompromised would theoretically be at the most risk.”
Groups that could be at higher risk due to being immunocompromised include:
- People who take drugs that suppress their immune systems
- People with AIDS
- The elderly
- People undergoing chemotherapy treatment
- Pregnant women
There’s also no evidence of COVID spreading from dogs’ fur, so you definitely should not wipe or wash your dog with hand sanitizer, alcohol or other disinfectant products. These could irritate your dog’s skin and even be poisonous to your pup.
What to do if your dog gets COVID
If your dog gets COVID, you should try to isolate him, like you would quarantine yourself.
“These dogs should be kept in one comfortable room and should have minimal contact with people,” Dr. Simon said. “Wear masks when near them and gloves when cleaning up after them, and practice good hygiene at all times.”
Don’t let your dog come into contact with other pets or other animals outside, and, if possible, try to keep your pup away from anyone who is immunocompromised until he’s better.
How to protect your dog if you have COVID
If you contract COVID, you should follow pretty much the same steps above.
“Humans who have tested positive should isolate [themselves] from animals, and the opposite is also true,” Dr. Simon said.
And since most cases of COVID in dogs occurred after being in close contact with people who had symptoms, it’s particularly important to stay away from your pup while you’re sick (so no cuddling until you’re better). If you can, have someone else in your house take care of your dog so you can minimize exposure.
If there’s no one else to take care of your pup, try to avoid contact with him as much as possible (aside from providing food, etc.), wear a mask and wash your hands when you do interact with him.
Should dogs wear face masks?
While masks are recommended for people, dogs should not wear face masks.
“Dogs would not tolerate face masks, and they are not advised,” Dr. Simon said.
Masks can be a choking hazard since many dogs will try to eat just about anything near their mouths. They can also cause problems with breathing or regulating temperature, as dogs rely on panting to cool themselves.
Is there a COVID vaccine for dogs?
There isn’t currently a COVID-19 vaccine for dogs, but there are some vaccines available for other animals, such as zoo animals, who have been more frequently infected with the virus. But since the risk of your dog getting sick is so low, you probably won’t need to get him vaccinated against COVID anytime soon.
So while it’s not likely that your pup will get COVID, if he does happen to catch it, be sure to isolate him and wear a mask and gloves when caring for him until he gets better. And don’t put a mask on your dog!