People keep petting my dog when we go for a walk. Could my dog transmit the virus on its fur?
Saskia Popescu, an infection prevention epidemiologist at the health-care system Honor Health, says she's not especially concerned about dog fur transmitting the virus. "I think that I would probably be more worried if somebody was coughing all over the place and went to touch my dog's harness or something — something inanimate," she says. "I would put it in the lower risk category."
That's because like fabric, fur is a porous surface — so it isn't easy for a person to pick up bits of virus from it. "The chances of you getting it from fur and hair is going to be less than getting it from a solid surface," says virologist Rachel Graham. Still, she said, she would err on the side of caution and ask people not to pet your dog right now.
Graham says one way to make sure your dog doesn't get touched by over-enthusiastic petters is to avoid letting your dog off-leash in a place where it may encounter other people. Rather than going to a dog park, she says, "it might be a better idea to take your dog out in the yard or somewhere you know that there's not going to be a lot of people."
And despite the occasional press report of a dog diagnosed with COVID-19, there is no evidence that pets can contract or spread COVID-19. The CDC says it has not received any reports of pets or animals becoming sick with the disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) concurs: "Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people.
One note: If you are already sick with COVID-19, AVMA recommends limiting contact with animals "out of an abundance of caution" until more is known about the virus. If you're not sick with the coronavirus, the group says you can interact with your pet as you normally would, practicing good hygiene — including washing your hands before and after interacting with your pet.
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