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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you are well aware of the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This disease has affected people all over the world in more than 40 countries.
Numerous deaths have been reported, causing people to panic and become concerned not only for their own safety but for the safety of their canine friends. Many dog owners are asking, can dogs get coronavirus?
Is the new coronavirus a threat to our canine companions? This has certainly become a concern when one dog in Hong Kong tested positive for low levels of COVID-19, causing an uproar in the news.
Experts are warning people not to panic because the dog has likely tested positive due to contamination from its owner who is a COVID-19 patient. The dog has shown no signs of being sick and is still under quarantine. (More on that below).
In this article, we will also discuss canine coronavirus, which is a disease that dogs can get. Canine coronavirus is completely different from COVID-19.
Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a disease that is found in dogs all the time and affects dogs all over the world. However, this new strain of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is different.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is presently no evidence to suggest that pets such as cats and dogs could get the new coronavirus disease, or spread the disease to humans.
However, this strain of coronavirus is still new and investigations are still ongoing.
To stay up to date on the latest news, please visit the WHO website.
One Dog Tested Positive For COVID-19, Here’s What Happened
On February 28, 2020, the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong released a statement saying that the pet dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong tested “weak” positive for COVID-19.
Health officials took swab samples of the dog’s nasal and oral cavities, and they tested “weak” positive for the disease, which means that low levels of the virus were found.
The AFCD stated that it was not immediately clear if the dog tested positive due to environmental contamination of the dog’s nose and mouth, or if the dog is infected.
The dog is currently under quarantine, and it is still unclear if it is infected.
More testing will be done, and once the dog is tested negative for the virus it will be returned to its owner.
The Government of Hong Kong has advised that all pets of coronavirus patients should be put under quarantine and veterinary surveillance for 14 days.
Should I Be Concerned For My Own Dog?
The dog that tested “weak” positive in Hong Kong is the only case that has emerged so far, and according to the Hong Kong health department the dog has shown no symptoms of being sick, and they are unsure if the virus was detected because of being in contact with contaminated surfaces.
Unless you are infected with the coronavirus disease or are in an area where the disease is spreading there is no need for concern for your dog.
It is highly unlikely that dogs can become infected with this coronavirus, so caring for your dog and maintaining your dog’s daily habits should not change.
Should Dog Owners Take Any Precautions?
The World Health Organization suggests that it is always a good idea to practice good hygiene such as washing your hands after being in contact with your dog or other pets. This will prevent any risk of other diseases such as salmonella or E.coli from being transmitted from pets to humans.
If you are infected with COVID-19 and have pets at home then it is a good idea to limit your contact with them. If you must be around them you should wear a mask just as you would around humans, and wash your hands. Keeping your pets indoors to avoid any chance of spreading the infection is advisable.
Is There A Vaccine I Can Give My Dog For COVID-19?
Currently, there are no vaccines available for humans or animals for the COVID-19 disease.
It is important to note that in some countries there are vaccines for canine coronavirus, but because canine coronavirus is completely different from COVID-19, those vaccines will NOT help protect your dog in any way.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has issued an advisory stating that veterinarians should NOT use such vaccines in the face of the current outbreak.
Let’s Talk About Canine Coronavirus
Canine Coronavirus is a disease found in dogs all the time, affecting both wild dogs and domestic dogs all over the world.
There are 2 types of coronaviruses found in dogs. One that causes mild gastrointestinal disease and one that has been found to cause respiratory disease. Canine respiratory coronavirus is part of the kennel cough complex.
The first type is a highly contagious viral infection of the intestines. Symptoms are usually mild unless it affects young puppies and is found along with another canine disease called parvovirus.
Canine coronavirus cannot be spread to humans.
It is spread through saliva and feces of dogs who are infected. It can also be spread through contaminated food bowls or direct contact with an infected dog.
Puppies and dogs living in crowded and unsanitary places are more at risk of getting canine coronavirus.
Canine respiratory coronavirus can be spread in kennels, doggie daycares, grooming facilities and other places where many dogs gather.
Symptoms Of Canine Coronavirus Include:
Your dog may show no symptoms of coronavirus or may have the following,
- Sudden diarrhea that is orange in colour and has a bad odour.
- Extreme lethargy.
- Loss of appetite.
It is common for dogs with coronavirus to have parvovirus too. The symptoms will be more severe and include fever and vomiting.
Canine Respiratory Coronavirus Symptoms Include:
- Nasal discharge.
How Is Canine Coronavirus Treated?
There are many causes of diarrhea in dogs, and you can’t always be sure that it is a coronavirus. If your dog has diarrhea for more than 24 hours, or also shows signs of lethargy and loss of appetite, you need to see your veterinarian.
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, however, they may be needed to help treat secondary bacterial infections.
Your vet most likely will recommend that you do not feed your dog for a period of 24 hours (after diarrhea has resolved), and gradually introduce small amounts of food. If your dog has become severely dehydrated, then extra fluid needs to be given as well as electrolyte treatment.
Early medical treatment is imperative to a successful outcome in severe cases.
How Can Canine Coronavirus Be Prevented?
There is a vaccine for coronavirus in dogs but this vaccine is usually only given to puppies because their immune system is undeveloped, and to show dogs because they are more susceptible.
The best prevention is to keep your dog away from other dogs that are showing any signs of illness. Always keep your dog’s environment clean, and try to prevent your dog from coming into contact with other dog’s feces.
It is always best to keep your dog’s vaccines up to date. You can speak to your vet about vaccines for other respiratory diseases, such as kennel cough.
How Can I Protect Myself And My Dog From COVID-19?
At this point in time, COVID-19 is thought to only spread from person to person, and there is no evidence suggesting that pets can become infected or spread the virus.
The steps you can take to protect your family and your pets include:
- Stay informed of the latest updates of COVID-19, by visiting the WHO website, as well as your national and local health authority.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap is not available.
- Avoid close contact with anyone that is coughing or sneezing, or showing any signs of being sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you are sick, stay home to avoid spreading any viruses.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of your kleenex immediately.
- If you become sick with COVID-19, wear a mask to prevent the spread and avoid contact with others as well as your pets.
- Protect your dog from other respiratory diseases such as Bordetella, parainfluenza, and canine influenza. Your vet can determine which vaccines your dog should be given based on risk factors.
The current outbreak of COVID-19 is indeed something to stay informed about, but unless you are living in an area where the virus is spreading rapidly, there is no need to let fear and panic set in.
Practicing good hygiene, and staying calm in a situation like this will go a long way.
Remember that dogs can be very therapeutic and help you remain calm and stress-free. So go ahead and cuddle with your dog and enjoy your time together, and as a safety precaution wash your hands.
What About You?
Are you concerned at all about your dog getting coronavirus? Are you taking any precautions?
Please share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you.
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