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Dogs, cats appear safe from coronavirus, officials say

It appears pets may be safe from the coronavirus that continues its advance across the globe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be shared between people and dogs, cats or other companion animals.

“There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus,” the CDC stated March 11. “To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.”

Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian on Rover’s Dog People Panel and author of “The Ultimate Pet Health Guide,” and in accordance with guidelines from the CDC and the World Health Organization, put together a resource for pet parents to address likely questions, from disease transmission details to how to keep your pet occupied while you try to get some work done at home, and to simply provide reassurance and the facts about dogs and COVID-19.

This resource is intended for educational purposes and should not be considered a substitute for a veterinary examination.

Dogs and coronavirus FAQ

Richter answers some common questions about pets and the coronavirus.

Should I be concerned about my dog or cat picking up the novel coronavirus infection?

There is no evidence at this time that dogs or cats can become ill due to the novel coronavirus. There have been cases of dogs testing weak positive when they have been living with an infected person, but it is not suspected these animals can pass the virus to humans.

Should I be cleaning my dog/cat more often?

There are no particular precautions regarding keeping pets clean relative to the coronavirus.

If the pet was exposed to an infected person, it is theoretically possible that virus particles on their fur could be picked up by a human as a result of petting, although this is unlikely.

If a pet is suspected to have been exposed to an infected person, bathing the pet should resolve any concerns about them carrying virus on their fur.

Should I change my behavior around my cat/dog?

There is no evidence to suggest this is necessary.

Should I be afraid of petting other dogs?

The concern here is from people, not other animals. Going to the dog park might expose people to other infected humans. There is currently no evidence to suggest that transmission from dog (or cat) to human has occurred.

How to stay active with dogs while working at home

Health authorities are recommending “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of the virus. Even if you’re not under quarantine due to an infection with or exposure to COVID-19, you’re likely limiting your activities and you may be working from home.

While your dog may be thrilled to have you around more often, they’re also likely to get bored or restless. And they may very well distract you from getting work done.

Richter said going to the dog park might not be a great idea right now, but daily walks are advisable — both for your dog’s activity level and your own!

Additionally, check out these fun, easy ways to stay active with your dog indoors.

Other ideas for keeping busy include puzzle toys for dogs and enriching games and activities.

There have been conflicting reports that dogs are testing positive for COVID-19. What is your take on this?

There have been a handful of cases where dogs living with an infected person have tested weak positive for COVID-19. This is not really all that surprising since a dog living in a house with an infected person is very likely to wind up with virus particles in their nose and mouth. This does not mean the dog is infected in the sense that the virus is replicating in the dog’s body like it does in humans. There have been NO cases of clinical illness in dogs related to COVID-19 and there is no evidence, or even suggestion, that dogs can transmit the virus.

That said, if a person with COVID-19 were to touch/cough on a dog and there was virus on their fur (or leash, collar, etc.), it is theoretically possible for an uninfected person to be exposed to the virus through physical contact. To be clear, this is not the same as the dog being contagious – it is more analogous to why we are cleaning surfaces to prevent transmission.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com or at 702-863-4285.

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