CoronaVirus and Your Dog
What Is Coronavirus?
News of Coronavirus is everywhere, but what is it really? Coronavirus is a large family of viruses, kinda like the flu. This means that different strains of Coronavirus can affect different animals and have different effects.
Indeed, there is a common human Coronavirus that causes mild to moderate upper-respiratory symptoms. This is a different strain than the current COVID-19 that is causing the pandemic. There is also a Canin Coronavirus that causes gastrointestinal symptoms and is highly contagious amongst dogs. However, this form of Coronavirus is also different from the current COVID-19.
Can Your Dog Get Coronavirus?
As stated before there are some strains of Coronavirus that can infect dogs such as the one that causes gastrointestinal symptoms and canine respiratory Coronavirus. These infect dogs and cannot be spread from a dog to a human.
However, I am sure that you have heard about the two dogs in Hong Kong who tested positive for COVID-19. Both dogs were in homes with infected owners. The first dog to test positive was a Pomeranian who showed a “weak positive” for COVID-19. This dog was quarantined for 14 days. After which it was tested again and the test came back negative.
The second dog to test a “weak positive” for COVID-19 was a German Shepherd dog. Interestingly, there was another dog in the home with this German Shepherd that tested negative for COVID-19. Both dogs were put into quarantine.
Now neither of the Pomarainina or the German Shepherd showed any signs of being sick with COVID-19. Also, the test used on these dogs indicated that the dogs had a “weak positive.” So, it is unclear if the dogs had an intact version of the virus (which could be infectious) or just a few RNA fragments of the virus.
There are no reports of any dog becoming sick from COVID-19 at this point. In fact, IDEXX a diagnostic lab, tested thousands of dogs and cats and found no signs of COVID-19. The veterinary community is currently being told that they do not need to test pets for COVID-19.
Can Your Dog Spread Coronavirus?
According to most sources such as the CDC and the World Health Organization, there is no reason to fear that your pet will give you COVID-19. They do suggest that you should wash your hands before and after interacting with your dog. Although this is something that they normally recommend anyway.
It is a possibility that your dog could be petted or sneezed on by an individual with COVID-19. Then if you pet your dog and touched your mouth you could possibly get COVID-19. However, this is unlikely as the virus survives best on smooth surfaces such as countertops and does not survive very well on porous surfaces like fur.
Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus
So, the main concern with COVID-19 is humans. So, what can you do to protect yourself? Well, health organizations and governments around the world are urging us to practice social distancing, sheltering in place, and washing our hands often. These are all great tips but there might be more you can do.
There are lots of low to no cost things that you can do to boost your immune system. Boosting your immune system will help to prevent infection. You might want to add vitamin D, vitamin C, probiotics, immune-boosting medicinal mushrooms, and omega-3 fatty acid supplements to your diet. These are all great immune boosters and have other beneficial effects as well.
If possible get some real vitamin D by spending some time outside. Don’t skip the daily walk with your dog if you are able to get outside for it. Being outside is great for your immune system and breathing fresh air is wonderful for your lungs. Bonus points if you can walk in the grass without your shoes for a bit of grounding!
Be sure to unplug from your phone, computer, TV, and other devices. Spend an hour a day away from these devices or have a device-free day once a week. Spend this time with your dog. Go for a walk with your dog, train your dog a new trick, snuggle together, play hide-and-seek, do some paw print art. These can all be fun ways to unplug from electronics and reignite the bond you have with your dog.
It is important for your overall health that you take some time for yourself to do something that refreshes you. I know that times are crazy and you might have kids that are home and out of school, you’re stuck at home, and your dogs are going bonkers because they don’t know what to do with all the attention. But you need to take just a few minutes to yourself each day. Whether you are refreshed by yoga, mediation, coloring, reading, painting, a breathing practice, or something else, make time for it every day.
Make your health a priority. Do research to find other ways to boost your immune system. Boosting your immune system isn’t only important during this pandemic but always. So find ways to make supporting your immune system sustainable. Not just for you, but for your family and your furry friends.
What If You Get Coronavirus?
If you get COVID-19 there are a few things that you might want to have in place. For instance, it is wise to identify a family member or a friend that can take care of your dog if you are hospitalized or too sick to care for your dog.
You should also write out your dog’s daily routine, when he goes for walks, when he is fed and how much. In addition, you should write out any medications that he is on and how and when he is to take them. Be sure to include information about your dog’s vet like a phone number. This will help whoever may need to take care of your dog know how best to care for him.
If you are sick it is a good idea to avoid petting and snuggling your dog. If there are other people in your home they might try to pet the dog after you and then get sick themselves. Or you could just have it be a house rule that anyone who pets the dog must wash their hands before and after petting.
Don’t dump the dog! And do not fear that your dog is carrying and spreading COVID-19. While dogs can get some forms of Coronavirus, COVID-19 is not a strain that affects dogs. Indeed, no dog has been reported as being sick with COVID-19.
Your best option is to take care of yourself, boost your immune system! Walk outside with your dog. Take advantage of this time you get to spend with your dog, teach him a new trick, build your bond. And prepare a backup plan for your dog just in case you get sick.