• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Can Dogs Get Covid? Vet-Approved Health Facts & FAQ


Jun 3, 2023
woman having an allergy to a Cocker Spaniel dog


woman having an allergy to a Cocker Spaniel dog
Dr. Athena Gaffud Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Covid has been the word on everyone’s lips since 2020, when the World Health Organization declared it a global pandemic. Naturally, it spreads panic about the health of all our loved ones, including our beloved pets. While we have an understanding of the virus and know what precautions to take, our pets don’t, and so it’s up to us to protect them if the virus can get to them too. But first, before we start isolating our dogs,  it’s important to know if our dogs can get covid. And if so, how can we protect them?

According to the CDC, Covid can spread from people to animals during close contact, but the risk of pets spreading it to humans is low.


Can Dogs Get Covid? 

Yes, dogs can indeed contract Covid, but it is not known to be as much of a threat to dogs as it is to humans. There have been several studies involving domestic pets to confirm the presence of Covid, and it involved animals that were in close contact with infected humans 1.

It is essential to know that this is no cause for panic. Your dog will most likely be fine if it contracts Covid, and there are things you can do to protect yourself and your dog from infection.

sick man lying in bed with his dog
Image Credit: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Spread Covid? 

While it is possible for Covid to be spread from humans to dogs, from dogs to humans, and from dog to dog, it is believed that the virus is primarily spread from humans to pets 2. There are a few reasons why the virus is transferred in this direction, but the most likely explanation is that they generate a much lower viral load when infected and may only contract the virus for a short time, making it less likely for them to spread it 3.

Therefore, the risk of dogs spreading Covid is considered low. They don’t play a significant role in spreading the virus like humans do. Furthermore, no evidence exists that viruses can spread to people from a dog’s skin or coat.

Animals, however, can also spread other pathogens that can make humans sick. Seniors aged 65 and older, young children, and people with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk, so they should be cautious and wash their hands after handling a pet.

How Severe is Covid in Dogs?

When a dog contracts Covid, it can have the same signs as humans. They will generally feel unwell and may experience sneezing, coughing, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

The good news is that, according to the data that is currently available, infections typically cause either very minor illness or no reactions at all, and if they do experience adverse effects, they often pass quickly 4. Even though it’s possible, it seems unlikely that a dog would experience more severe symptoms.

sick australian shepherd dog
Image Credit: Irini Adler, Pixabay


What Should I Do If My Dog Has Covid?

If your dog contracts covid, you will need to follow the same precautions as you would if another family member got infected.

  • Try to isolate your dog in a separate room away from the rest of the family
  • Keep your dog at home
  • Wear gloves when you interact with your dog or its bedding, waste, or food
  • Wash your hands after handling any of your pet’s items

Monitor your dog to see if the signs get worse, and if they do, call your vet. If you are worried or uncertain, keep in touch with your vet during this period, and they can guide you along. 

What Should You Do If You Have Covid?

If you test positive for Covid and are worried about your dog, you should follow the same protocol that everyone has been advised to follow.

  • Isolate yourself from everyone, including your dog, except to provide care if you are alone in the home
  • If there is someone else in your home, have that person care for your dog
  • Avoid petting or cuddling, sharing food, and being licked by your dog
  • Wear a mask while caring for your dog and gloves while handling its items
  • Wash your hands after handling anything

If you suspect you have passed Covid onto your dog, don’t take your dog to the vet yourself. Contact your vet and plan a virtual consultation. It is most likely that your dog will be fine and will recover quickly.

Woman wearing a protective face mask cuddles, plays with her dog at home because of the corona virus pandemic covid-19
Image Credit: MT-R, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Get the Covid Vaccine?

Although several dogs have tested positive for Covid, they cannot be vaccinated yet. Furthermore, the risk of infection and spreading Covid is so small that it would not be worth giving a vaccine. There is no need for a vaccine from a public health standpoint.

While companies are still free to research and develop these vaccines, they cannot sell or distribute them without a license.

Domestic pets also don’t reside in zoos, where many animals have received an experimental Covid vaccine from the veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis, either out of great caution due to their endangered status or because they might come into contact with hundreds of people who are visiting each day. Additionally, some animals are more likely to become ill from the virus than others.

divider-dog paw

Keep Your Dog Safe While You Keep Yourself Safe

While keeping yourself safe from the Covid virus, some of the same methods may cause your dog more harm. There are some things you shouldn’t do and some things you can do to keep your dog safe.

  • Never put a mask on your dog’s face.
  • Never use chemical disinfectants such as hand sanitizer on your dog.
  • Talk to your vet about appropriate products for bathing and cleaning your dog.
  • Keep your dog at home if you are concerned about it getting infected.
  • If you do go out in public, choose areas with very few people.
  • Always wash and disinfect your hands before handling your dog’s items.
  • Keep your dog well-nourished with a high-quality diet.
  • Do not neglect your dog for fear that you may pass on the virus.
  • If you choose to keep your dog at home, be sure to find ways to enrich its environment and provide exercise and mental stimulation.
  • We understand Covid is scary, and fear can cause us to make irrational decisions, but talk to your vet or get support if you ever feel you want to give up your dog. We mention this because some dog owners have gone to that extreme.



Your dog can get Covid, but there is no need to panic. Dogs do not get as sick as humans; they don’t stay sick for as long, and it is rare for them to spread the virus. Look at it this way, veterinary hospitals were not overcrowded and running out of space like our hospitals. Humans are more at risk of Covid than dogs, and if you get infected, it’s best to limit contact with your pet, just like you would do with any other family member. However, making your dog wear a mask or sanitizing it is a step too far. If your dog gets covid and you feel unsure, contact your veterinarian.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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