News on the Wuhan Coronavirus has been piling up, as more cases are popping up across the globe. One major concern on the top of every pet parent’s mind is this - Can dogs get human viruses like the Coronavirus? Are they affected by this at all? What can we do to protect our pups?
In order to understand what we can do to defend our dogs from illness, let’s first take a look at what exactly Coronavirus is.
Understanding Coronavirus (CoV)
According to the World Health Organisation, Coronavirus, or rather Coronaviruses, are a large family of viruses - not just a single virus. They cause a wide range of illnesses from the common cold to more severe diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS.
While this group of diseases isn’t exactly new, a new strain of virus known as the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) has joined the ranks. Previously, it had never been found in other humans.
But the major concern is that Coronaviruses are zoonotic - meaning they can be passed on between animals and people. For instance, SARS was transmitted from civet cats to humans. In the case of the new strain of Coronavirus, research has linked its transmission to humans through the consumption of exotic animal meat in China.
Doggy Health Concerns
With Novel Coronavirus being declared a global health emergency, it’s no wonder pet owners everywhere, are rushing to purchase surgical masks for themselves, and face masks built for their pups. The hope is that these masks will prevent their pups from contracting Coronaviruses, while also preventing the general spread of the virus through our canine companions.
But can Coronaviruses actually be passed to dogs?
As of right now (12 February 2020), there are no cases of the new Novel Coronavirus affecting dogs. Plus, while there are some specific strains of Coronaviruses that affect dogs such as the Canine Respiratory Coronavirus, these strains only affect dogs and cannot be passed to humans.
For now, it seems generally unlikely that there can be any dog-to-human or human-to-dog transmission of Coronaviruses according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). However, it’s better to be safe than sorry - if either you or your pet is sick, try to visit the doctor or vet as needed and avoid having too much contact with each other.
[UPDATE: 9 March 2020] Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) confirmed its first case on 28 Feb 2020 of a dog being tested 'weak positive' for the novel COVID-19 - this indicates a low-level infection with the virus. The World Organization for Animal Health has stated that it's likely to have been a human-to-animal transmission and reiterated that there is no evidence to suggest that pet animals can spread the coronavirus. At this juncture, it's important to understand that 'being infected' does not equate to being capable of spreading the virus. For now, pet owners are reminded to upkeep good hygiene habits and to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly after contact with animals.
In other words, pet face masks are unlikely to be useful against Novel Coronavirus spread from humans. But the strains of Coronaviruses that do affect dogs are typically transmitted via dog-to-dog contact such as coughing and sneezing. Poor hygiene can also result in Canine Coronavirus as the virus can also contaminate food and water bowls, collars and leashes and even the hands and clothing of people who have handled infected dogs.
Many cases of canine coronavirus are also contracted when dogs eat infected feces, or have contact with infected feces. To avoid this, make sure to clean up after your pup promptly, with Earth Rated’s Eco-Friendly Poop Bags.
Despite the fact that our dogs are unlikely to contract the new Coronavirus, it’s nevertheless good to take precautions and be more conscious of our pup’s health. For one, watch out for these Coronavirus symptoms in dogs, and make sure to bring them to a vet for a checkup if they do:
- Diarrhea (Especially if the occurrence is sudden)
- Blood or mucus in your dog’s diarrhea / feces
- Excessive Coughing / Sneezing
- Nasal Discharge
- Poor Appetite
If your dog shows serious signs of illness, especially if your dog has diarrhea/loose stool, or their feces contains blood or mucus, make sure to get them to a vet as soon as you can in case they do have any illness.
In some cases, infections can also occur while your dog is suffering from other diseases, compounding the effect of their illness - so it’s much better to be vigilant at all times. Do also take precautions to prevent your dog from having contact with other dogs if they are sick as they could pass the virus on to others.
Other than that, for this period of time, it might be better to reduce your dog’s outdoor walking time. When you do walk your dog, keep them away from foreign objects and don’t let them bite or lick anything. Afterwards, wipe them down with Absorb Plus’ Antibacterial Hypoallergenic Pet Wipes and wash their paws thoroughly.
During this time, you should also avoid letting your dog gather with other dogs, such as at the dog park. You may also want to avoid dog boarding or dog daycare as the close contact with other dogs can increase your pup’s illness risk.
Regardless of how often you walk your dog, you may want to bathe your dog more often, maybe once a week during this time. Richard’s Organics Anti-Bacterial Dog Shampoo is an excellent premium and natural dog shampoo that’s great for dry and sensitive skin.
If you’re looking for other ways to keep your pup clean in a quick way, give Kin+Kind’s Lavender Calm Waterless Foaming Dog Shampoo a go. It’s a rinse free and worry-free way of helping your pup stay clean in a fuss-free way.
However, it is important to boost their immune system as it’ll help them fight off disease and viruses like the Canine Coronavirus. Augustine Approved’s SuperBoost Original Powder for Dogs is a great organic supplement that’s packed with vital nutrients that boost your pup’s digestion, organ function and immune system.
For now, It’s a huge relief that there aren’t any cases of the new strain of Coronavirus affecting our pups - but nevertheless, this does not mean we can relax too much as our pups are still susceptible to other illnesses. In the end, these are small steps and precautions you can take to keep your pup safe from getting sick.
Most important of all, keep yourself clean and healthy! A happy and healthy owner is a happy and healthy dog, especially if they’re big lickers. For example, if your pup loves homemade dog food, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap before preparing their meals.
As a whole, it’s a good idea to follow the World Health Organisation’s tips and protective measures against the new coronavirus. For instance, make sure to wash your hands frequently and practice respiratory hygiene, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, make sure to seek out medical care as soon as you can.