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Can Dogs Get Coronavirus? Here’s What You Should Know

Up until recently, coronavirus was contained to one area of the world. However, it is now close to a global pandemic. 

It was bad enough when those affected were humans. But headlines everywhere recently blared that a dog “tested positive” for the viral infection. 

This news sent dog owners into a panic, wondering if their beloved pet could be at risk. For animal lovers, their furry family members are more important than unknown strangers.

With all of the mass hysteria and false reporting, it’s hard to know what to believe. So what do dog owners really need to know about dogs and coronavirus? 

What is Coronavirus?

The official designation of the viral infection is 2019-nCoV. It is generally referred to as coronavirus, even though that is actually the parent name of the different strains of the virus. The SARS outbreak of 2003 was a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are passed between animals and humans. But the 2019 outbreak strain has never been seen in humans before. Experts believe animals likely carry other strains of coronavirus that haven’t yet been transmitted to humans. 

Symptoms of the virus are similar to the flu. Fever, cough, shortness of breath, and other respiratory problems are all signs of possible coronavirus infection. If left untreated, the illness can cause kidney failure and possibly death. 

Scientists aren’t sure yet how the virus was transmitted to humans. However, they do know it originated in China and possibly spread via bats. 

Most of the people who have tested positive in countries outside of China recently returned home from traveling abroad. 

Dogs and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

Since many people don’t read past headlines these days, all they know is a dog tested positive for coronavirus. Well, that’s only half the story. 

The dog’s owner is one of the people who have fallen ill from the viral infection. Because the dog was close to the owner, the dog was contaminated with the virus. 

The dog did test positive for environmentally having the viral infection, but it never showed any symptoms. So, while the dog was exposed to coronavirus and tested a “weak positive,” it was never ill. 

Experts don’t believe this coronavirus strain can infect dogs, though it can be transmitted onto their fur. The dog in question was quarantined as a safety precaution. 

Health officials suggest that pets of people who test positive and are quarantined should be quarantined as well. 

Elderly and Young Most At Risk for the Coronavirus

It is scary to think our pets could fall sick from coronavirus. However, the real ones at risk are the elderly, the young, and people with pre-existing health issues. Those same people are also highest at risk for getting the flu. 

So before you rush out to buy face masks for yourself or your dogs, you should know experts warn that the face masks don’t do much good. But there are ways to keep yourself healthy in the midst of a global outbreak. 

How to Protect Yourself 

Despite the assurances, many people are still concerned about their dogs and coronavirus. 

You may see a lot of misinformed comments online that coronavirus is nothing more than the flu. While the two infections have similar symptoms, they are from two different viral strains. 

There is another commonality with the flu and coronavirus: how to avoid getting it. The number one suggestion is to wash your hands frequently. The CDC recommends washing your hands in warm, soapy water for 20 seconds. 

Covering your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze is also strongly suggested. This is not because the illness is airborne, but rather, because the germs will transfer from your hand to doorknobs, handles, and any surface you touch. 

And how, exactly, can you protect your canine family? 

No, you don’t need to run out and get the latest gadgets on the market. Instead, the best way to protect your dog from coronavirus - and most other contagious illnesses - is to protect yourself. 

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