People likely won't get COVID-19 from touching their pets,but vets want you to wash your hands
- Coronavirus is known to live on surfaces, and, of course, an animal's fur is a surface.
- The porous and fibrous makeup of the fur makes it less likely to promote transmission of COVID-19, but vets are still encouraging basic hygiene when handling animals.
- At this time, there have been no confirmed cases of pets carrying coronavirus, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
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The US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and veterinarians agree: everyone's got to wash their hands.
There is no known evidence that dogs and cats can either get sick from coronavirus or transmit it to humans.
Still, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that when handling pets, whether yours or a stranger's, you should wash your hands right after.
"We do know that, just like any kind of surface, fur can be a surface," Dr. Kimberly Hammer, of Northstar Vets, told Insider. "And while it is a fibrous surface and a porous surface, which is thought to be less likely to promote transmission, it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility."
Smooth surfaces, like countertops and doorknobs, transmit viruses better than porous, and especially fibrous, materials which tend to absorb the pathogens, according to the AVMA.
Hammer said that the coronavirus is certainly not a reason to stop playing with your pet, but that it does serve as a reminder to practice good hygiene.
"We still just want to use the same basic hygiene that we always would around any pet, which is to wash your hands when your done handling your pets, or someone else's pets," Hammer said.
If someone has tested positive for the coronavirus, however, they should find someone to watch their pets, Hammer said. The AVMA has also published those recommendations.
"So if you are ill with COVID-19, have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet," the AVMA recommended on its website. "If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don't share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal."
Dog walkers may want to supply their own leashes
Hammer said dog walkers who are nervous about being exposed to surfaces that others have touched may want to supply their own leashes.
"I'm not sure they want to bring leashes from ten different dogs to their homes," Hammer said.
Wearing gloves is an option, but Hammer said good handwashing is just as important.
"We know, just based on the recommendation of the CDC, that washing our hands is the best thing we can possibly do," Hammer said. "Not touching our face is the best thing we can possibly do."
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