With Coronavirus spreading across the globe, life is seemingly changing by the minute for all of us. While many of us are anxious and worried, dog owners have the comfort of knowing there is no evidence our pets can spread COVID-19 or become infected by it. That fact comes from the World Health Organization.  

Just because our pets are spared from COVID-19, doesn't mean life isn't changing for pet owners. Here are some things dog owners should keep in mind until coronavirus is no longer a threat. 

What if I HAVE BEEN exposed to or have COVID-19 and I have a dog? 

First, know that it's highly unlikely your dog will become sick, but as a precaution, limit your exposure to your pets. If possible, let another family member care for your dog. If that's not an option, limit your interaction with your dog and always wash your hands before and after touching and feeding your dog. 

Veterinarian Visits:

  • If your dog has a vet appointment for routine services, such as a checkup, nail trim, dental appointment, call your veterinarian and let them know your situation. If it's not a medical necessity, your vet may reschedule your appointment or ask you to have a family member or friend bring your pet to the office. 
  • In the event of an emergency with your dog, contact your nearest emergency veterinarian office and let them know you may or do have COVID-19 and your dog needs emergency care and follow their guidelines. 
  • If you need special dog food or medicine while you are ill, ask a family member if they can pick it up for you or request home delivery from your veterinarian. 
  • If you take your dog to a large veterinarian chain like Banfield or VCA Animal Hospitals, you can use their chat services to have non-emergency questions answered. 
  • If you have non-emergency medical questions about your dog on the weekend or after hours, consider using one of the many telemedicine services. Here is a shortlist of online veterinarian services: 
  • Active4Pets
  • PetDesk
  • Petzam
  • Televet
  • WhiskerDocs

Grooming Appointments / Doggy Daycare / Training / Dog Walkers

  • Contact your service provider and let them know you may have or have COVID-19 and you will have to reschedule your appointments/sessions with them. Do not let an in-home groomer, trainer or dog walker into your home if you may have or do have COVID-19.  

What if I HAVE NOT BEEN exposed to or have COVID-19 and I have a dog? 

Even if you haven't been exposed to coronavirus, practice social distancing and handwashing when meeting with veterinarians, groomers, trainers and dog walkers. No hugs, high-fives or handshakes for now. 

Veterinarian Visits:

  • If your dog has a vet appointment for routine services, such as a checkup, nail trim, dental appointment, call your vet and ask if they have implemented special policies due to the threat of coronavirus. 
  • Do not bring anyone else to the vet appointment unless absolutely necessary.  
  • Keep a distance between you and other guests in the waiting room. Do not be offended if your vet asks you to wait in your car until the exam room is ready for your dog.
  • If you only need to pick up food or medicine, this would be a perfect time to switch to home delivery options.   

Grooming Appointments / Doggy Daycare / Training / Dog Walkers

  • Contact your service provider ahead of your next appointment as they may have new policies to keep everyone safe. Groomers and trainers may be temporarily suspending in-home sessions during the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • Some daycares and grooming facilities may offer curbside pickup and some may prefer your dog to be dropped off without a collar and leash so the facility can use their own. 
  • Always be sure to wash your hands before your visit and immediately after. 

Can people become infected with COVID-19 from dogs?

  • This from the World Organisation for Animal Health: The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals, including dogs and cats, can spread the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.

Can dogs become infected with COVID-19?

  • There is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick. 
  • There is one dog in Hong Kong that tested positive for COVID-19, but did not show any clinical signs of the disease. That dog was also exposed to owners that were sick with COVID-19. 

Should I get my pet tested for COVID-19? 

  • Not at this time. There is no indication that healthy and unexposed dogs should be tested for the virus. 

Should I do anything to protect my dog or cat from Coronavirus? 

  • There have no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with COVID-19 and currently, there is no evidence that they play a significant epidemiological role in this human disease.
  • As a rule, when handling and caring for your dog, basic hygiene should always be practiced, including handwashing before and after being around or handling your dog, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.

What if my dog is not feeling well or is showing signs of flu-like illness?

  • If your dog exhibits any signs of illness, such as coughing, sneezing or lethargy, call your veterinarian immediately, and keep your dog indoors to prevent further spread. So far dogs have not become infected with COVID-19.  
  • Signs of illness in dogs and cats are more likely to be associated with common viral and bacterial infections such as kennel cough, canine flu, etc., that are neither coronaviruses nor transmissible to people. 

Coronavirus has changed our way of life for the time being. This will pass. In the meantime, your dog can be a dog. It's safe to walk your dog, let him play in the backyard, and take him for car rides. Just keep a safe distance from the other people you encounter along the way.