Frequently Barked Questions

I have questions about my dog & the Coronavirus. Can you help?

Thank you for reaching out to us. Know that we are here for both you & your dog during this time of need. We know that these times are uncertain so we have compiled a series of common questions about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in relation to your dog. 

While we've done our best to provide current information on this topic by speaking with trusted veterinarians, what is known about COVID-19 is changing quickly. We recommend that you call your vet for the most up-to-date information and for specific advice relating to your pet.

If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to reach out to our Happy Team.


  • Can dogs get coronavirus?

    “There was one case of a dog testing positive in Hong Kong, although the dog was not ill and the assumption is that the dog was infected by its owner (not the other way around). The dog did not make antibodies, and the current thinking is that infection risk to a human from a dog is minimal to none. The canine influenza vaccine will not protect against the novel coronavirus. Very, very good info here:” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “There is a coronavirus that affects dogs, but it’s not the same one involved in the current pandemic and does not cause illness in humans. The canine influenza vaccine offers no protection against COVID-19; they are not only different viruses, but completely different types of virus.” (Fear Free/ Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • Can dogs be carriers of COVID-19?

    “This is complicated. We don’t think that dogs can transmit infection to people – BUT – if an infected person touches or coughs on a dog (or cat, or table…) they can transmit the virus as what is called a “fomite” – merely a surface that can physically pass on the virus to another person. So – yes, they can carry the virus on their fur, but the risk of this is no greater than for any surface.” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “This is extremely unlikely. The World Organisation for Animal Health states, “There is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick.” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • Can dogs pass it to humans?

    “See above – as far as we know now, the risk is minimal to none. This may change” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, “To date, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease.” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)
  • Can dogs pass it to other dogs?

    “See above – as a fomite, possibly, but likely no.” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “There is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 can make dogs sick, and so it would not be possible for them to pass it to other dogs. However, the virus itself could potentially be transmitted from one dog’s fur to another dog’s fur, and then to someone who petted or touched the second dog.”  (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • Can the virus live on my dog’s fur for a period of time?

    “See this from the Washington Post: ‘…Experiments found that at least some coronavirus can potentially remain viable — capable of infecting a person — for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. When aerosolized into fine, floating particles, the virus remained viable for three hours. On a copper surface, it was four hours, the study found. The median length of viability for the virus on stainless steel was 13 hours, and 16 hours on polypropylene, a common type of plastic.’ How long it can live on fur is unknown right now.” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “According to guidance provided to animal shelters by the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, the virus can probably live on a dog’s fur for approximately five days.” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • Is there a way you should/can "sanitize" your dog's fur and paws?

    “Realistically, no. Washing your dog if in contact with a known infected person is probably a good idea, but using chemical sanitizers on a dog or cat is not advisable. Anything you can put on yourself to sanitize (soap or hand sanitizer) is OK as long as the pet can’t lick it off. Keeping your dog away from others if you are infected is common sense, as is keeping your dog away from other dogs and other people (for now).” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    The Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at UF guidance recommends “bathing with a shampoo or detergent such as Dawn dishwashing soap [which] will mechanically remove and inactivate viral particles (similar to handwashing).” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • Do you recommend bathing after daycare or dog parks? Do you recommend avoiding daycare and dog parks altogether right now?

    “I would avoid dog parks for now, and seriously consider postponing any daycare visits until more is known. Stay home and watch a movie with your dog or go play in the yard. Make lasagna and sing show tunes. If your dog has been in contact with other dogs or people, a bath is not a bad idea if it can be done without stressing you or the dog out. At this point, practicing social isolation for pets as well as people makes the most sense.” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “Due to the recommendation that humans avoid congregating in public, avoiding dog parks is the best decision. Dog daycare may not involve risk to humans, but if daycare staff is infected, they could contaminate your dog’s fur with the virus. It’s also possible that a dog who has the virus on his or her fur could transfer it to your dog’s fur. For those reasons, to be absolutely safe, you should probably keep your dog out of daycare until more is known about the virus and its transmission.” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • My dog interacts closely with other dogs in the park and on walks. How worried should I be? Do I need to keep him isolated?

    “Only if in contact with a known infected person. You should not worry or panic, but you should be aware and cautious. Keeping your dog isolated beyond the “social isolation” you are practicing is not needed unless a known infection/infectious person was involved.” (Dr. Tony Johnson) 

    “Humans are being advised to avoid contact with each other, which typically means avoiding contact while in public with your dog.” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


  • Is it safe/OK to walk dogs? 

    “This may depend on your location and what requirements are put in place by authorities. In France – no. In NYC – probably not. In the middle of Wyoming where you won’t see anyone – sure. If you are in a large metropolitan city where you will come into contact with many other people and dogs who could be fomites? If you can’t stay 6 feet away from people or pets, might be wise to find another option of you can.” (Dr. Tony Johnson)

    “Yes, as long as you’re healthy and not under quarantine, you can walk your dog. Just be careful to wash your hands and try not to touch surfaces others have touched.” (Fear Free / Dr. Marty Becker’s team)


Bios of experts:

Shelby Semel is a dog trainer based in NYC. She decided to dedicate her life to working with animals upon graduating from the University of Michigan in 2007.   She is Certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT).  She is constantly keeping up with the newest development in canine training and studies regarding dog psychology and behavior. Her techniques are unique and flexible as no dogs are alike; each training session is tailored to suit each owner and dog. She is the go to trainer for BARK NYC office as well.  She currently resides in New York City with her Pomeranian Taz and Chihuahua Xena, who makes sure she’s up to par on her training skills! Shelby is also a proud volunteer of Shelter Chic, Unleashed NY, and Animal Care Center of NYC. 

Dr. Tony Johnson, DVM, DACVECC, is a 1996 Washington State University grad and obtained board certification in the shadowy art of emergency medicine and critical care in 2003. He is currently the Minister of Happiness for VIN and is a former clinical assistant professor at Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. He has lectured for several international veterinary conferences and is an active blogger and writer. He used to live in a converted one-room schoolhouse in the middle of a cornfield, but has since taken up occupancy in a normal house in a normal neighborhood with very little corn. He has three young kids and a beautiful wife named Gretchen, who is also a veterinary emergency and critical care specialist.  His animal family consists of: Cupid – formerly shot with an arrow, now a feline meatloaf; Crispy – formerly set on fire, now rules with a furry feline iron fist; and canine Rocco, missing a leg from a Buick-induced injury. The chickens are Uno, Rosita, and Carlita, and he plans on naming his next chicken Omelet. He has lost count of how many fish they have, and believes it is in the low double digits. In his spare time he enjoys sleeping, eating and breathing with occasional forays into woodworking, cooking, wine, reading and writing (but not arithmetic). 

Fear Free: Founded in 2016 by “America’s Veterinarian” Dr. Marty Becker, Fear Free provides online and in-person education to veterinary professionals, the pet professional community, and pet owners. Our courses are developed and written by the most respected veterinary and pet experts in the world, including boarded veterinary behaviorists, boarded veterinary anesthesiologists, pain experts, boarded veterinary internists, veterinary technicians (behavior), experts in shelter medicine, animal training, grooming, boarding, and more.By closely listening to the needs of the profession and those of pet owners, Fear Free has become one of the single most transformative initiatives in the history of companion animal practice, providing unparalleled education on emotional wellbeing, enrichment, and the reduction of fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.


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