High Peak vet highlights Covid guidance for dog walkers amid uncertainty over virus transmission via fur

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A High Peak vet has warned that dog owners may be unwittingly putting others in danger when letting their pets off the lead during the pandemic.

Dr John Rosie, founder and director of mobile service VetCare@Home, is keen to highlight overlooked Government public health advice relating to walking dogs.

The guidance in intended to ensure people remain two metres apart from other walkers, but also to limit the potential risk of transmitting the virus through contact with a dog’s fur.

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John said: “Many dog owners are simply not aware of the rules. I would urge them to make themselves familiar with the Government guidelines, which clearly advise against letting your dog off the lead in public areas.”

John Rosie with nurse Lindsey Southam from VetCare@Home.John Rosie with nurse Lindsey Southam from VetCare@Home.
John Rosie with nurse Lindsey Southam from VetCare@Home.

While many dog walkers might have learned to keep their distance from each other anyway, the risk from their pets might be less obvious.

Although there is limited evidence that animals can transmit Covid-19 to humans, or vice versa, there is some concern that fur could be capable of transmitting the pathogen.

John said: “I think the rule is more due to the fomite danger – to prevent people touching a dog.

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“The potential for the virus to survive on fur for any length of time is probably minimal, but without evidence it’s better to be safe than sorry. Dog owners must always wash their hands after any contact with a dog.”

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John's warning comes as experts wrote in the journal Virulence, that continued evolution of the virus in animals followed by transmission to humans “poses a significant long-term risk to public health”.

In comments issued to the press, the authors said: “It is not unthinkable that vaccination of some domesticated animal species might be necessary to curb the spread of the infection."

Despite this, little data exists about the prevalence or level of danger involved, largely due to the fact that animals are not routinely tested.

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John said: “There’s a lot of chat in closed industry circles about the need for more testing of pets and other animals.”

For the latest Government guidelines on pet care, go to https://bit.ly/39EPhWM.​​​​​​​

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