We are all aware of the term Coronavirus, and there are many stories floating around about whether or not dogs can transmit coronavirus (Covid-19) to humans. These stories are confusing and creating unnecessary fear. The term Coronavirus is a large group of diseases that encompasses hundreds of different viruses of varying intensities, including the most recent strain COVID-19. Other familiar strains include SARS, MERS and even Canine Coronavirus.
I am not a veterinarian nor medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.
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A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called Let Your Dog Sniff – Pros vs. Cons. When I was researching the post, I found a description of what illnesses can be found in dog feces and why you should be careful of what your dog is sniffing. One of the things I learned was that coronavirus can be found in dog poop. At the time, the term meant little to me, but in light of the recent pandemic, I was curious.
“COVID-19 cannot be transmitted between dogs and humans.”
Update April 5th, 2020:
There has been an incident of COVID -19 found in a Tiger at the Bronx Zoo, reportedly transmitted from a zoo worker to the animal. This indicates some possibility of transmission between humans and animals. If you are showing signs of COVID-19, or have been diagnosed positive for the virus, it is best to avoid contact with your pet. It’s best not to sleep with, cough or sneeze around, or touch your pet with your bare hands. If you are healthy and out walking your dog while practicing safe distancing, it would be best not to allow others to pet your dog. The likelihood that the virus will survive on a dog’s fur for any length of time is very slim, but better to be on the safe side.
I have read many articles, posts and even memes recently, stating that the World Health Organization has determined that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by dogs. This news was comforting on many levels. Firstly, mass panic in some countries was causing people to abandon their pets (or worse) for fear of having them transmit the deadly virus. This news update put minds at ease and saved the lives of many animals. Being a dog walker exposes me to many dogs in parks and on walks. Also, I am working with many animals whose family members may or may not be at risk. Admittedly, this news from the WHO brought me a small bit of comfort.
Still puzzled by the information I had previously found regarding coronavirus in dog poop, I decided that I needed to clarify all the confusing information. I discovered that there is a Canine Coronavirus which is specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to humans.
What is Canine Coronavirus?
Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease that is transmitted from one dog to another through contact with fecal matter (poop). A dog sniffing and/or ingesting infected poop can contract and spread the virus to other dogs. It is not an airborne disease, but tends to spread in places where large groups of dogs gather. It can be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated dogs as well as through sharing contaminated food dishes. In dog parks where many dogs poop, there are traces of fecal matter everywhere. When your dog steps in it and then licks his paws, he is ingesting these traces.
Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus:
Adult dogs may demonstrate a few minor symptoms or none at all when infected with the virus. These only last a few days and include:
- Reduced food consumption
- Rarely they will develop a fever
In puppies the disease can be significantly more serious. Because secondary infections can develop in respiratory system, the puppy can become septic if left untreated. It is important that you take your puppy to the vet at the first sign of any unusual symptoms. Antibiotics can be prescribed to clear up the respiratory and other secondary infections.
Incubation Period and Prevention of Canine Coronavirus?
A dog can carry the virus for up to 6 months from the time of contact. Your dog can unknowingly transmit the virus during this period. As he may not show any signs of illness, it is imperative that you clean up after your pup. Always be aware of what he is exposed to while sniffing around on walks. You should refrain from allowing your dog to eat from group food bowls. Many people who are trying to be generous will offer food bowls in dog parks. Group doggy daycare environments may leave a large bowl of kibble out for all dogs in their care. These practices can cause the spread of Canine Coronavirus.
Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans. COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to-human transmission.
As always, you should be aware of any change in your doggo’s behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits or changes in fecal matter; including frequency, consistency, color and odor. Behavior, appetite and poop are the strongest indicators of your dog’s health. Any changes in these areas should be monitored, evaluated and assessed by a veterinarian as soon as symptoms develop.
Wash your paws and play Safe!