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Health & Wellness

Can dogs get COVID-19?

The chances aren’t likely

Is it possible that your beloved pup could catch COVID-19? And, if so, how should you go about protecting your best friend? 

We spoke with Dr. Ellen Jefferson, DMV, a Texas-based veterinarian and the president and CEO of Austin Pets Alive!, to learn more. 

Can my dog get COVID if I’m positive?

Technically it’s possible for your pup to get COVID-19 — but, it’s unlikely.

“If you or someone in your household tests positive for COVID, there is a chance that your dog could get COVID,” Dr. Jefferson says, pointing to a study conducted in Croatia prior to Omicron that found 43% of dogs who lived with positive owners tested positive for the virus on a PCR test or showed antibodies to COVID. 

Dr. Jefferson cautions for pet parents to take this news with a grain of salt, because dogs don't appear to get sick from any of the variants out there now — stating that in the unlikely chance your best friend does get the virus, symptoms should “generally show mild,” and your pet should quickly recover. 

This means that while it’s possible for your dog to catch COVID-19, pet parents everywhere can rest easy knowing that their pup is safe from the nastier side effects. 

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Can dogs spread COVID?

The chances of your dog spreading the virus to other pets in your household, or even other humans, are virtually nonexistent.

“It is still much more likely that a human gives COVID to all the pets rather than the pets spreading it amongst themselves. There is actually no evidence to see that they have ever spread it to other animals or to people,” Dr. Jefferson says. 

This doesn’t mean that you should throw caution to the wind when it comes to your pet’s safety though — Dr. Jefferson still recommends avoiding places with actively infected people and taking the same precautions with your pet as you would with yourself. “It is still wise to keep all inhabitants of an infected home isolated together, including the nonhuman family members.” 

That being said, there are some safety measures that your pet can skip, like taking a COVID test. “There is no need to test your dog for COVID because they are extremely unlikely to be infected unless you are.” Dr. Jefferson says. “If your dog does get infected by someone in the household, you would follow the same isolation orders as the doctor gives to you as a human.”

In general, Dr. Jefferson recommends saving laboratory time and supplies for humans. 

Is there a coronavirus vaccine for dogs?

With infection rates as low as they are, and the risk of serious complications next to nothing, this also means that a COVID vaccine for pets is not necessary. 

“There is not a COVID vaccine for dogs, and it’s not likely to be on the market any time soon, because dogs don't appear to get sick from any of the variants out there now and they have almost zero chance of spreading it to others,” Dr. Jefferson says.

If your dog starts showing signs of a serious illness, you should always reach out to your vet. Even if it might not be coronavirus, your vet will be able to determine if your dog has an underlying medical condition and can help you determine the proper treatment.

Photo by Henry Lai on Unsplash

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