Can COVID-19 Be Transmitted Via Dogs? | Ask the Rev. | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Can COVID-19 Be Transmitted Via Dogs?


Published March 25, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 1, 2020 at 10:21 a.m.


Dear Reverend,

I've been going out for a lot of walks lately. Partially to get some exercise, but mainly to keep my sanity. I'm always mindful of staying at least six feet away from people. Everywhere I go — Centennial Woods, the Intervale, the waterfront, the Burlington Country Club — people are walking dogs without leashes. More than a few times, I've had a dog run over and jump up on my legs. I understand that the canines are oblivious to social distancing, but the fact that their owners are makes me irate. Can COVID-19 be transmitted via dogs?


(male, 38)

Dear Hounded, 

We're living in very strange times. Stress levels are high, and everyone is on edge — for good reason. Even though it's best to stay home and avoid unnecessary excursions, getting outside is of the utmost importance for our physical and mental well-being. Of course, this must be done while keeping the safety of yourself and others in mind.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,, states, "At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19."

However, it also says: "This is a rapidly evolving situation. Guidance will be updated as new information becomes available." My unscientific mind reads that as: "It's probably fine, but maybe don't go making out with strangers' dogs for a little bit."

A friend recently invited me to meet him at a dog park. I asked how many people were there, and he said about a dozen but that they were all staying far apart. I knew that if I went, I wouldn't be able to keep my hands off the dogs. So I stayed home. Not because I was worried about getting the virus from the dogs, but what if I have it and somehow it got transferred to their people? Maybe that's not how it works, but I figured, Why chance it?

Even in the best of times, there are people afraid of unknown dogs running up to them. Vermont has no statewide leash laws, but most cities require dogs to be on a leash — with some exceptions, including dog parks. There are always jerks who don't follow the rules. Now is not the time to be a jerk. Please keep your dog on a leash when out and about and include them in your social distancing.

Good luck and God bless,

The Reverend

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