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What dog owners need to know about COVID-19

Dr. Jerry Klein, American Kennel Club on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

It’s been about a year since we first heard the words coronavirus and COVID-19. Today, with a vaccine arriving, we still are still having massive outbreaks of COVID-19 throughout the country, and there are still questions about the virus, the disease and the ideal protocols. But what we have gained in the months of this pandemic is scientific research and the perspective of time.

Here are some important facts about COVID-19 for dog owners to know:

• While dogs can be infected, it is mainly a human-to-human transmitted disease

• A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have reportedly been infected with the virus, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.

• Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.

• If you become sick with COVID-19 and own pets, you should ideally delegate their care to a family member or friend and isolate from them as much as possible.

• If you become sick with COVID-19, live by yourself and are unable to find someone to care for your pet, you should wear a mask when dealing with them; refrain from hugging, petting, kissing or sharing food items with them; and wash your hands thoroughly after dealing with them.

• If you are sick with COVID-19 and are able to find someone to care for your dog, you should give that person a copy of medical records, your veterinarian’s name and phone number, your pet's medications and instructions on when and how to administer them, and the name or label of appropriate food and instructions for feeding.

• If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, don't take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or make other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for his treatment and care.


Because there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus to animals, the CDC recommends that pet owners limit their pet’s interaction with people outside the household. These measures include:

• Walking dogs on a leash at least 6 feet away from others.

• Keeping pets indoors when possible and not letting them roam freely outside.

• Avoiding public places where many people gather.

Do not put a mask on pets. Masks could harm them.

And do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about appropriate products for bathing or cleaning your pet.

(Dr. Jerry Klein is the chief veterinary officer at the American Kennel Club.)

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