It’s common for dog owners to be stopped during walks by someone who wants to pet their pooch. "Of course," they usually say, as they let their beloved dog jump into a random person’s arms. With all the concern surrounding COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, pet parents may want to limit how much contact their pups have with strangers.
Even though the consensus is that pets can’t catch the coronavirus, it does live on objects and surfaces and is transmitted through touch—if a stranger came in contact with COVID-19, it's reasonable to assume there’s a chance it could be passed to a dog’s coat, and then picked up by the next person or object the dog touches. Given how common it is for dogs to climb on furniture, cuddle with their owners and sleep in their humans’ beds, it’s easy to see how quickly the virus could spread.
Though it may seem like a reach to some, it’s not just hysteria. In Hong Kong, a dog is currently being kept in quarantine for testing "weak positive" for the disease. Officials say they’ll keep the dog quarantined until the test results come back as negative.
Of course, it’s not feasible or fair to keep pets inside all day. It simply becomes a matter of adjusting a dog’s hygiene accordingly, just like how humans are tearing through bottles of hand sanitizer and giving elbow bumps instead of handshakes. Owners can wipe a dog's down after walks, invest in a pair of boots, implement (or improve) a between-bath routine and stock up on more bathing products.
By the same token, people should be cautious when asking to pet another's dog—the less contact, the better.