The benefits that dogs offer to their families is well documented, but with the recent outbreak of Coronavirus (otherwise known as COVID-19), many dog (and cat) owners are wondering if their pets pose a new threat to their health.
After a dog tested positive for Coronavirus in Hong Kong, pictures of dogs wearing protective clothing and masks (!!) have appeared on various news websites, sparking concern that our canine companions can catch and spread the virus to other dogs and people.
Source: Business Insider
Previously, dogs have been celebrated for the clear advantages they offer to human health. Studies have found that being around dogs boosts our immune systems, reduces stress, increases fitness, amplifies social skills, and enhances our empathy and self-esteem. On top of this, dogs bring us priceless companionship and undeniable joy, improving our quality and enjoyment of life. Considering this, the recent concerns about the Coronavirus in dogs (and their ability to spread it) are in stark contrast to the positive ideas we've had about dogs and human health for many years.
Source: ABC News
As more people start working from home due to social distancing and quarantine measures, it is inevitable that they will spend more time with their pets. According to the experts, pet owners have no need to worry about their dogs catching or transmitting COVID-19. Although dogs can contract certain types of Coronaviruses (including Canine Respiratory Coronavirus), the World Health Organization has advised that COVID-19 is not a threat to dogs. There is no evidence that dogs can catch or transmit this particular strain of Coronavirus, although pet owners are still urged to undertake good hygiene practices including washing their hands after playing with their dog. Although a number of dogs and cats tested positive for SARS in 2003 (which is part of the Coronavirus family), these pets did not transmit the virus to other animals or people. It is the pet owners, rather than their companions, that have the highest risk of spreading COVID-19.
Source: World Health Organization
So, what can you do to prevent your dog from catching and spreading Coronavirus? At this stage, the experts recommend that you carry on as normal and don't make any adjustments to your normal routine with your pets. However, it has been suggested that dog owners stock up a little bit extra on supplies (including dog food, flea & worming treatments, and treats) in case of temporary disruptions caused by the virus such as self-quarantine requirements. Other than that, we advise to pet parents to simply continue enjoying the abundant love and company of their dogs, as they always do!