Coronavirus Panic Is Hurting Pets, Who Cannot Be Infected

Yesterday we reported on the overwhelmed pet shelters in Wuhan, China that are unable to keep up with the needs of all the abandoned animals in the area.

The entire city is a ghost town as citizens quarantine themselves so that they don’t catch the coronavirus. People are panicking, and police are only allowing people one dog per household. If they find pets in a house in which someone has caught the coronavirus, all pets must be killed.

An anonymous person who is rescuing abandoned animals told BBC, “It’s a bad situation here. We are not allowed to go outside and I am afraid my dogs and cats will be out of food soon. I am worried if I or my family get infected with the virus then all of the dogs and cats could be killed by policemen.”

dog-in-face-mask
CNN via Getty Images

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?

No. The coronavirus can live on the surface of objects, which is why we all need to practice good hygiene, especially now. In the same way, the virus can live on a dog’s fur or skin – but the dog won’t contract it. Therefore, it won’t “pass” the virus to a human.

Dogs and cats do get other types of the coronavirus, but not the type we’re currently seeing in humans. Jane Gray, a veterinary surgeon in Hong Kong told CNN,

“I am certainly not in any concern of my dog or cats, I’m far more concerned about myself catching it from a human being that has the disease.”

She also said that the face masks some people are putting on their pets aren’t helping. Just wash your hands properly after touching your pet, and you’ll be fine.

Gray continued, “Whilst it seems a bit scary, it’s purely a precautionary measure, and it’s certainly nothing for pet owners in general to be concerned about.”

The Truth About Pets and Coronavirus

CNN reports that the Lifelong Animal Protection Charity of Hong Kong (LAP) wrote to the government after it was announced that a dog had tested positive for coronavirus. They said the announcement, without greater context, caused panic that ended up hurting more animals than it helped.

In the letter, they said the announcement caused “a tremendous amount of panic.”

Sheila McClelland is the founder of LAP and co-authored the letter. It continues,

“Present evidence suggests that dogs are no more of a risk of spreading (coronavirus) than inanimate objects such as door handles…In a state of panic, people could abandon or kill their pets. Other people could stigmatize people who have dogs. Dog owners could face unreasonable problems when simply walking their pets outdoors, or neighbors could create trouble for no reason.”

So even though a dog in China tested “positive” for coronavirus, it’s not cause for major concern. Abandoning pets in panic is not going to help.