Can Dogs Get the Coronavirus?

woman holding dog coronavirus

Update: A dog has tested “weakly positive” for the coronavirus, meaning low levels of the virus were found.

Originally posted on Feb. 11, 2020

The deadly coronavirus has spread across the world, with it currently effecting more than 40,000 around the world in at least 25 countries. The official death toll is now at more than 1,000 people, making it more deadly than the 2003 SARS epidemic. As the world is scrambling to reign in the rapidly spreading virus, should we also be worrying about our dogs?

Most likely, no.

The virus is believed to have originated in China’s Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, at a live-animal crammed marketplace. The most popular theory is it spread from a bat to a snake and then to a human. Is it plausible that it could jump back to animals, infecting our dogs?

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The World Health Organization states that “there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.”

However, Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist and part of a Chinese team tackling the coronavirus, didn’t rule out the fact dogs could catch it.

“If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected. By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets,” she told China Central Television, according to a translation by China Daily.

While veterinarian Kristi Flynn, an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, tells This Dog’s Life she hasn’t heard of any cases of dogs getting this specific virus, she understands why there may conflicting statements. 

“The reason different organizations may be reporting different information is that this is a rapidly evolving situation that scientists and medical professionals are trying to understand and contain,” she tells us.

Related: Here’s How to Tell If Your Dog Has a Cold — and What to Do About It

But that doesn’t mean dogs can’t get the coronavirus, they just most likely can’t get this strain, known as 2019-nCoV, or the “novel coronavirus.” In fact, coronaviruses in dogs is extremely common and highly contagious, Dr. Flynn tells us, and can cause a range of respiratory and/or gastrointestinal diseases.

The most common way dogs get canine coronavirus is coming in contact with poop from a sick dog. Dogs infected with canine coronavirus may experience diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Death is unlikely to occur from the canine coronavirus, but it is important to visit your veterinarian if you believe your dog has the disease, as she may require fluids to combat dehydration. There is a vaccine for canine coronavirus and may be suitable for a dog but should be discussed with a professional.

By Andrea Huspeni

Andrea Huspeni is the founder and CEO of This Dog's Life. Her mission it to help dogs live a happier, healthier and longer life. When she isn't working, she spends time with her two dogs, Lola and Milo. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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