If you own a dog and walk it on the street, your chance of catching the Covid-19 increases by 78%, according to a new study. Dogs themselves can be carriers of the virus or help spread the virus through contaminated objects.
Dogs promote social interaction, physical activity, and improve the welfare of their owners. However, living with a dog also increases the risk of being contaminated with the Covid-19 coronavirus by 78%, according to a Spanish study published in Environmental Research magazine. The researchers interviewed 2,086 people about their activities during the lockdown in Spain between March and May 2020 and identified those who represented the greatest risks.
As a result, owning and walking a dog increases the risk of contracting the virus by 78%, working in the office instead of teleworking increases the risk by 76%, and living with an infected person increases the risk by 60%. The most dangerous activity remains getting food delivered at home (+94%), which is even riskier than shopping in a store.
“We don’t have enough information to say if the dogs themselves are carriers of the virus or if the owners are infected by contaminated items that they are more likely to handle,” says Cristina Sánchez González, co-author of the study. Dog owners may be less vigilant about hygiene measures or more exposed to social contact when they walk their dog. It’s even possible that the virus spreads through dog excrement, she says.
Several studies have shown that dogs can test positive for the coronavirus without developing specific symptoms. The cases of transmission of mink to humans through a recently mutant strain have also been of concern in recent times. However, a study by the Pasteur Institute and the National Veterinary School of Alfort suggests that pets are not easily infected with coronavirus, even if they live in close contact with an affected human being.