COVID-19, Dogs, and
New Safety Protocols (Updated - 6/24/2020)
COVID-19 health crisis has already drastically changed our lives and our lifestyles. As the situation continues to evolve, the scientific and animal welfare community has pulled together to identify the risk to animal owners and lovers and the animals in their care.
We gathered the latest and most credible research to answer:
Do dogs spread COVID-19 to people?
How susceptible are dogs to the virus?
What can I do to protect my dog and myself?
LECA is taking preventative measures to protect the health and safety of its dogs, clients, and team. Our Safety Protocols go beyond OSHA’s guidelines and include:
Screening for COVID-19 virus and anti-bodies for all employees
No sharing of toys between dogs
Regular hand washing and use of sanitizer and sanitary wipes
Measure and record employee temperature every morning
Paid Sick Leave for employees that show symptoms of respiratory illness
Please contact us to learn more.
Do Pets Spread COVID-19 to People?
There have been several reports of pets contracting the novel coronavirus, causing many pet owners to be concerned for our pet’s health and our own health. The good news is that at this time there is no evidence that companion animals play any significant role in disease transmission according to organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
The OIE states that “[a]lthough several animal species have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19], these infections are not a driver of the COVID-19 pandemic; the pandemic is driven by human to human transmission.”  Furthermore, the AVMA has stated “[t]here is little to no evidence that domestic animals are easily infected with SARS-CoV-2 under natural conditions and no evidence to date that they transmit the virus to people.”  Although there is still more to learn, these trusted agencies all state that the risk for pets spreading COVID-19 to people appears to be low.
How Susceptible Are Dogs to the Virus?
Despite more than 7 million global cases, there are less than 20 confirmed reports of pet cats and dogs testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of June 8th.  Transmission back to people hasn’t been identified in any of the cases. The U.S. has confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in only four cats and two dogs;  one of the dogs, a German Shepard in New York that developed respiratory signs, is expected to make a complete recovery, and the other dog (from the same household) had no symptoms. [7, 8] From what we know so far, an infected pet may have no symptoms at all or may have clinical signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, coughing, sneezing, or discharge from the eyes or nose. 
In a laboratory experiment performed by Shi et al. “[d]ogs appeared not to support viral replication well and had low susceptibility to the virus” even when SARS-CoV-2 was directly administered to them.  Another study by Temman et al. (awaiting peer-review) did not detect any SARS-CoV-2 infections in a small group of pets that had “frequent and lasting contacts… confined to small rooms” with COVID-19-positive owners.  Furthermore, some U.S. veterinary labs have added SARS-CoV-2 screening to routine diagnostic panels – thousands of specimens have been collected and tested and there have yet to be any positives, implying that few pets contract the virus under natural conditions. [1, 3]
What Can I Do to Protect My Pet and Myself?
“There is no evidence that the virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets” according to the CDC.  However, good hygiene is always recommended around animals regardless of the relatively low risk of transmission between humans and pets. The OIE and CDC advise:
“[H]and washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies” 
“[A]voiding kissing, being licked by animals, or sharing food” 
Do not use any disinfectants nor face coverings on pets as these can harm animals 
“Be aware that children 5 years of age and younger, people with weakened immune systems, and people 65 years of age and older are more likely to get sick from germs some animals can carry” 
While more is being discovered about COVID-19 and pets, it is ideal to restrict pets from interacting with people or animals beyond the household members. [1, 2, 10] When outside it is best to keep your dog on a leash, avoid dog parks and places of large gatherings of people or pets, and maintain social distancing between your dog and others. [1, 2] As more information becomes known, refer to reliable sources such as the CDC, USDA APHIS, and OIE for the latest news and recommendations regarding pets.
In rare instances pets seem to be infected by humans, so people who are sick with COVID-19 or have symptoms should limit their contact with their pets  or, if possible, have another household member care for them altogether. If you are caring for a pet while ill, you should wear a mask and follow the basic hygiene practices while tending to them. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding your pet’s health – call first if possible and let them know if you or another household member is sick so that they can best assist you and your pet.
. AVMA. (2020). SARS-CoV-2 in Animals. Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/sars-cov-2-animals-including-pets
. CDC. (2020). If You Have Pets. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/pets.html
. IDEXX. (2020). Overview of IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test. Retrieved from https://www.idexx.com/en/veterinary/reference-laboratories/overview-idexx-sars-cov-2-covid-19-realpcr-test/
. OIE. (2020). Questions and Answers on the COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.oie.int/en/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/
. Shi, et al. (2020). Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS-coronavirus 2. Science. 29 May 2020 : 1016-1020. Retrieved from https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6494/1016.abstract
. Temmam, et al. (2020). Absence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in cats and dogs in close contact with a cluster of COVID-19 patients in a veterinary campus. BioRxiv. Pre-print. Retrieved from https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.07.029090v1.full
. USDA APHIS. (2020a). Confirmation of COVID-19 in Pet Dog in New York. Retrieved from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/newsroom/stakeholder-info/sa_by_date/sa-2020/sa-06/sars-cov-2-dog
. USDA APHIS. (2020b). Confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/sa_one_health/sars-cov-2-animals-us
. WHO. (2020). Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
. WSAVA. (2020). COVID-19 - An update for WSAVA Members. Retrieved from https://wsava.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID-19-An-Update-for-WSAVA-Members-May-29.pdf
Written by Gina Brandstetter, DVM