Can My Dog Get COVID?

Here’s what you need to know 😷💉

dog with face mask and germs

By now we’re pretty familiar with what COVID is, what the symptoms are and how to protect ourselves. But what about our dogs? Can dogs even get COVID?

Dogs can get COVID, but it’s not super common. But you should still know what the symptoms are and what to do if your dog does catch COVID so you can be prepared.

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and a veterinary consultant for FiveBarks, to find out everything you need to know about COVID and dogs.

Can dogs get the coronavirus?

Dogs can get COVID if they interact with a person who’s infected with the virus.

“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.”

Symptoms of COVID in dogs

Dogs don’t seem to get seriously sick from COVID like some people do, and most dogs who have COVID only experience mild symptoms 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.”

While the chance of your dog catching COVID is low, you should look out for these symptoms of COVID in dogs just in case:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye discharge

If you think your dog might have COVID, contact your vet. (You shouldn’t take your dog to the vet yourself if you have COVID, however.)

Can you get COVID from a dog?

The risk of getting COVID from your dog is 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 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.

“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 have contact with other pets or other animals outside, and, if possible, try to keep your dog 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, including staying away from your dog, wearing a mask and washing your hands.

“Humans who have tested positive should isolate 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. 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 vaccine for dogs, but there are some COVID vaccines for animals in development. But since the risk of your dog getting sick is so low, you probably won’t need to get your dog vaccinated against COVID anytime soon.

So while the chance of your dog getting COVID is pretty low, 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!