Owning this type of pet can increase your chance of getting COVID-19

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I have some bad news for canine lovers everywhere, according to a recent study coming out of Spain owning a dog can increase your risk of contracting the deadly virus SARS-CoV-2.

There are precautions you can take to mitigate the risk of you and your beloved puppy’s chances for coming down with a bad case of COVID-19 outlined in more detail here. The University of Granada and the Andalusian School of Public Health in Spain surveyed 2,086 different folks on lockdown and the types of activities they engaged in to compute the risk of getting COVID-19 from those everyday tasks.

Scientists found that walking your four-legged friend is a high-risk pastime and your chances of being exposed to this virus increase by 78%. Check out the full study authored by Cristina Sánchez González, a researcher at the University of Granada’s Biomedical Research Centre.

The survey

When COVID-19 cases were surging in Spain back in April, researchers decided to ask citizens more questions related to quarantine habits and the things they were still willing to do within lockdown restrictions. Researchers found out that those folks that took their pets out for a walk had a 7% higher risk factor for being exposed to COVID-19, compared to the 4% chance of others without pets but who may have been exposed or high risk for other reasons.

  • Walking a pet increased risk by 78%
  • Not disinfecting products you bring into your home from outside sources increased risk by 94%
  • Working on-site (as opposed to remotely) increased risk by 76%
  • Cohabitating with a COVID-19 patient increased risk by 95%

Further research also found the existence of protein ACE2 in dogs which can serve as a SARS-CoV-2 receptor allowing this virus to spread to humans and duplicate more easily within the animal’s respiratory system. Understanding this receptor protein could aid scientists in better understanding how to fight this virus according to new information found in this recent brief.

“In the search for treatments for COVID-19, many researchers are focusing their attention on a specific protein that allows the virus to infect human cells. Called the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2 “receptor,” the protein provides the entry point for the coronavirus to hook into and infect a wide range of human cells. Might this be central in how to treat this disease?”

The ACE2 receptor essentially acts as a key to unlock the doorway to vulnerable organs to be affected by this insidious virus. How can we best protect ourselves and our pets during this time?

Tips to protect you and your pet in unprecedented times

Pets are vital during this time of isolation. While we aren’t saying don’t adopt or keep your dog inside to relieve himself on a pee pad because that isn’t good for your animal either; we are encouraging you to limit your exposure to other people’s dogs in the park and keep puppy play dates on Zoom, for now. It’s also not a bad idea to invest in some sanitary wipes for your pet after coming back from your walks. Good sanitation techniques help keep your pet healthy and prevent them from bringing COVID-19 into your home this winter. The lead author of this study drives home the importance of staying on top of a pet’s grooming habits.

“In the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of an effective treatment or vaccine, preventive hygiene measures are the only salvation, and these measures should also be applied to dogs, which, according to our study, appear to directly or indirectly increase the risk of contracting the virus.”

Keep bathtime fun by buying plenty of toys and treats for them to enjoy as a reward for being such a good boy when it comes to staying safe this pandemic!

Sara Ochoa, a veterinary consultant for DogLab adds,

“In the very rare chance that the other person that you encounter was an asymptomatic carrier and the dog was carrying the virus on their fur, [they] could pass the virus to your dog’s fur and then on to you.” Check out more tips to keep your dog safe here.

It remains vital we stay on top of all incoming new information on this novel coronavirus to best protect ourselves and our furry friends from getting sick.

The takeaway

In lieu of a vaccine that probably won’t hit the market until early next year we have to continue to social distance, sanitize our hands and homes, wear masks, and stay home as much as possible. Keep your outings to essential trips only and when walking your dog try to take a path less occupied by strangers or trash that your dog can get into potentially picking up the virus and thus carrying it into your home.