Can dogs get coronavirus?

can dogs get coronavirus

With the images of dogs wearing face masks popping in our social streams, and countless WhatsApp threads giving wind to miracle cures of every kind – many pet owners were left wondering – can dogs get coronavirus?

In early March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 novel coronavirus as a global pandemic. The ensuing panic over the spread of the virus saw people and policymakers resort to all sorts of measures —  sealing borders, hoarding toilet paper, flocking to the internet (and rumor mills mulling probable solutions), etc.

Many people in worst-hit towns of China abandoned their pets or were forced to do so as Covid-19 cases grew in numbers. Left to their own sans food to last for an extended run, many fear that they would be starving.

To make matters worse, counties in Hunan are terminating pets found in public places. Thankfully, there are volunteer networks and NGOs working to rescue the pets to safety.

Can dogs get coronavirus?

Media outlets and people have used “coronavirus” and “COVID-19″ interchangeably but it isn’t one and the same. Coronavirus isn’t something new but refers to a group of viruses that are known to cause respiratory issues ― like the common cold ― to more serious symptoms that can lead to hospitalization, like lung problems.

COVID-19 is a ‘novel coronavirus’ meaning it’s a new type of coronavirus that was not previously known or understood by health experts.

WHO can i get coronavirus from my dog
As per the WHO, your pets can’t transmit coronavirus. Dogs can contract certain types of coronaviruses, such as the canine respiratory coronavirus, but this specific novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is believed to not be a threat to dogs.

The World Health Organization has stated, “While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”

The 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong had since tested negative after quarantine and the authorities believe the dog contracted “low-level infection” COVID-19 from its owner, but there is “no evidence” pets transmit the virus to humans.

How to Protect yourself against COVID-19

Follow basic hygienic precautions like:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Keep social distancing.
  4. Stay home when you are sick or have a fever.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Yes, that work table too.

Working from home? Here are some tips to groom your dog at home

Covid-19 pet care tips

There is no reason to change daily routines with pets while people remain healthy and symptom-free. Dogs are our friends through thick and thin, and we’ll see through the crisis together.

  • Look out for the exercise regimen of your dogs – if you are in a relatively safer area, take your dog out, practise social distancing during your walks. In case, you are in a high alert area, please try indoor activities to channel your pet’s energy.
  • Please keep your pets under your watch during the walks to enable social distancing when in public.
  • Try avoiding all non-critical vet trips. For all non-urgent health issues, please see if calls or online consultation may help.
  • Prepare for the worst – If in the god-forbidden scenario you get hold of the dreaded disease, what happens to your pet? Scary, right? Please make the necessary preparations – back up options – caretakers, extended family, food and exercise needs of your pet.
covid-19 pet care tips

Should my dog wear a mask?

Experts believe that dogs do not need a face mask to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. If you are still concerned or notice a change in your dog’s health, speak to a veterinarian.

How dogs are helping to detect COVID-19?

Researchers at the National Veterinary School of Alfort, outside Paris, trained eight Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs to identify people infected with the coronavirus. They used odour samples taken from the armpits of more than 360 people, who were both positive and negative for the virus.

The dogs had a 95% success rate in early trials.

The researchers said introducing dog detection was a cheap, quick and reliable “tool”.

Here are some movies, documentaries, and books that you can enjoy with your dog while you work from home.

So stay safe, wash your hands, and pet your dog. And don’t fall prey to rumors. Did I say Never and I mean EVER abandon your dog, cat or other pets because of coronavirus fear or for any other reason for that matter.

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The Chile revolution dog who led the student protests

Street art keanu reeves with dog
Street art reimagining Keanu Reeves as the patron saint of stray dogs in Chile. He’s holding a puppy called Negro ‘Matapacos’, Chilean symbol of protest and resistance against police brutality.

In the early 2010s when the students in Chile took to the streets against the privatization of universities demanding education became more accessible for everybody, little did they know that a dog would become the symbol of the revolution.

This socialist hero wore a bandana and unflinching courage.

Negro ‘Matapacos’, the stray dog showed up at almost every student protest.

He defied tear gas and water cannons and accompanied the students in their struggle for affordable education.

Negro Matapacos, the Chile revolution dog

Although driven by a common purpose, protests need more than placards and petitions, posters and people; they need an element of emotion — that one thread that ties them beyond speeches and editorials.

For Chile student protests, that unifying thread was a dog.

Chile revolution dog

Negro Matapacos gained a cult status among the student circles of Santiago. He’d participate in the street marches with a no-holds-barred attitude against the police.

His rebel antics won a plethora of fans who (you guessed it), happened to be protesters.

Chile dog Negro Matapacos
The slang Negro ‘Matapacos’ which loosely translates to black ‘cop-killer’, was given to him as he was as fierce as it gets when it came to defending the students.

Loved and adored by the student community, he was a familiar face on the university campus. A student named Maria Campos provided him with what would become his signature, coloured bandanas. At the peak of his popularity, he was also the star of a documentary film.

Negro Matapacos passed away in 2017. Tributes poured in all the major media. Murals featuring Negro Matapacos adorned the walls.

Chile dog poster

He lives on – printed on flags, t-shirts, pamphlets as a symbol of solidarity and resistance.

Chile dog flag

Far beyond Santiago, drawings of him have been spotted from New York to Shibuya station in Japan. Statues of Hachiko and Balto have been on occasions adorned with red handkerchieves as a mark of respect to Negro Matapacos.

dog images protest
Two years after his passing, Matapacos again went viral on social media in late 2019 when an artist posted an image on Instagram protesting against the hike in metro fare.

Somewhere up in the clouds, Matapacos is still braving the odds to support his humans.

Viva la revolution!

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Togo movie review – the legend of an unsung hero!

Togo movie review
Togo movie review

Disney’s latest hit ‘Togo’ celebrates a forgotten hero.

In 1925, a devastating case of diphtheria broke out in the isolated Alaskan village of Nome. The lifesaving serum was a thousand miles away, but the port was closed due to ice, and planes couldn’t fly in the deadly winter storm.

Nome’s only hope was its dog sled team.

Dog sleds were chosen to transport the serum from Nenana to Nome, 674 miles. It would have taken a few weeks to cover this distance but by then most of the children would have died so an elite team of sled-dog racers tagged along in a race against time and elements of nature to relay the medicine across the perilous frozen land in blizzard conditions.

20 sled teams participated in the 1925 relay.

19 teams ran an average of 31 miles each. 1 team led by Togo ran 264 miles.

The dog who clocked most of the arduous track got lost in history. Togo, the movie, is his story.

Togo movie review

Togo (2019) is Disney’s emotional tribute to the eponymous real-life hero dog. Shuffling between past and present, the screenplay shows the special bond between musher Leonhard Seppala (played by Willem Dafoe) and Togo.

Togo is shown to be so ‘untrainable’ that Seppala tries to give him away twice but the dog was meant to lead, and so he does. How the fluffy rebellious puppy, breaks out of barns and all disciplinary boundaries alights the screen.

Togo movie poster
Majestic and moving – Togo deserved a big screen!

The screenplay, narrated via frequent flashbacks, endearingly builds upon the relationship between man and the dogs in the backdrop of gorgeous and the gory Alaskan slopes and their endless whites.

Togo had been Seppala’s lead dog since he was 8 months old; now, at age 12, and perhaps on his last days, Togo is called upon to lead the epic journey for a cause that’s bigger than any race he has ever run in.

original photo of Togo
The real heroes: Leonhard Seppala with Togo. In 2011, Time magazine named Togo the most heroic animal of all time.

The hero dog who saved 9 people from drowning

But what about Balto?

The dog that often gets credit for eventually saving the kids is Balto, but he just happened to run the last, 55-mile leg in the race.

Togo was certainly the unsung hero but it doesn’t really paint Balto in black. The Internet really needs to calm down – it wasn’t as if Balto took claim to all the laurels and dismissed Togo to the shadows. You know who does that?

Humans. Never dogs.

Togo alaska sled dog
Togo and the sled team crossed a frozen river, in a blizzard, with unstable ice and large open patches of water.

As Dafoe’s character quips towards the movie’s end: “If you were lucky enough to know a great one (dog), they never really leave. They stay with you as long as you live. Harnessed to your heart, giving their all.”

Togo, Balto and every single dog who ran the great distance to save innocent children need to be celebrated. With or without a statue, they are the heroes who represent hope, valour, love and unflinching loyalty like only dogs can.

They’re all good boys!

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