Apr 13, 2020

By Jeremy Logan

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Taking the dog for a walk is one of the few aspects of normal life that hasn’t been entirely disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

But experts have a message for all pet owners venturing out for a puppy promenade…physical distancing rules should apply to animals too.

Veterinarians say it’s possible dogs and cats could carry COVID-19 without actually having the virus themselves, as their fur could be serving as a potential vehicle for transmission.

Public dog parks have closed across the country as more and more provinces declared states of emergency.

But Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian and a professor at the University of Guelph, says even private interactions, like letting children play with your dog on your front yard, for example, are also to be avoided.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention says on its website there’s no evidence “at this time” to believe COVID-19 can be transmitted through pet fur.

But Kevin Coombs, an infectious disease expert at the University of Manitoba, notes there’s “nothing inherently antiseptic about hair.”

Dr. Ian Sandler is a Toronto-based vet who sits on the national issues committee of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.

He says though transmission of the virus from pet fur to humans may be possible in theory, he expects those cases would be very uncommon.

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