Can COVID-19 Be Transmitted by Touching Dogs


Many have asked me the following question regarding the possibility of a friend or stranger with the COVID-19 novel corona virus petting your dog and then the fear is that the virus can live on the dog and when you pet your dog, the virus is transmitted to you. Or among cats, that the cat can groom him or herself and then give himself or herself the virus. To get the real answer (as opposed to Internet rumors), Dr. Gail Golab,  Chief Veterinary Officer, Scientific Affairs and Public Policy at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Incidentally, the AVMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in regular consultation with one another:

Q: Can pets serve as fomites in the spread of COVID-19?

A: “COVID-19 is usually primarily transmitted when there is contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze.

COVID-19 might be able to be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur), because porous, and especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.

Because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association is the go-to resource regarding COVID-19 and pets.