By human standards, dogs ignore every common-sense coronavirus precaution. They hump each other. They lick each other. They ass-smell each other. Then they turn around and do the same to us. Dogs just want to have fun, pandemic be damned.
To owners who want to stay alive, this attitude and behavior can be unnerving. What if your dog catches the coronavirus while playing with another dog? What if they get corona-slobber on them, and bring it into your home?
You and your dog will be glad to learn that none of this is much of a concern, as long as you — the human — continue to uphold your coronavirus precautions.
“Dogs have rarely been found to become infected with SARS-CoV-2, and the few that have been infected had very mild diseases that were assumed to have come from their owners,” says Davidson Hamer of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory. “The likelihood of dog-to-dog transmission is very low, as is transmission back to their owners. So, if the owners are staying six feet or more apart, and ideally wearing masks, the potential for them being infected when two dogs play is extremely unlikely.”
As for whether dogs can become cute but deadly vehicles for corona-slobber, Hamer says, “Good question, for which there’s no available data. Since there’s some evidence that dogs have very low viral loads, I’d anticipate that the likelihood of spread from one to another is extremely low. I think it would be wise to counsel owners to wash their hands after walking their dog, especially if they’ve patted other dogs, but even their own as well.”
If you still feel uneasy about your dog playing with other dogs, know that Hamer — a board-certified specialist in infectious diseases with extensive field experience involving the treatment and prevention of malaria, pneumonia and diarrheal diseases — allows his dog to play with other dogs. “For the record, I have a highly social dog who I let play with other dogs on walks, and I’m not concerned,” he tells me. “Although, again, I keep my distance from the other owner and wear a mask.”
Nothing — not even the coronavirus — can get between a dog and another dog’s ass.