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“Don’t Let Your Dog Put His Nose There, You Can’t Trace It”

“My dog misses my touching and hugging her, and I don’t know what to do. Can you please offer some advice?” —Simone, via email

Yesterday, as I rode back into Boulder (Colorado) along a bike path, I heard a woman scream, “Don’t let your dog put his nose there. You don’t know if he’s got COVID and you can’t trace where he’s been.” She was referring to a medium-sized butt-sniffing dog, and she wasn’t short on words—or mild expletives—for the dog or his human.

I kept riding, but their altercation that slowly faded down to something semi-civil made me think more about dogs, other companion animals, the community at large, and the COVID-19 pandemic. I also receive a good number of emails asking questions such as the ones above, and have discussions about what we know and don’t know about dogs, cats, and the spread of this horrific virus. Most of the inquiries deal with questions such as, “Is it okay to touch a strange dog?”; “I love to hug my dog and she loves to be hugged, is this alright?”; or “Is okay for my dog to play with or sniff other dogs.” 

On March 19, 2020, I posted an essay called “What Pet Owners and Vets Need to Know About COVID-19,” and update it when there’s more to say. For example, a piece titled “Dutch dog, three cats infected with coronavirus” published on May 16 begins, “A dog and three cats in the Netherlands have been infected with COVID-19, authorities say, the first confirmed cases involving house pets in the country. The dog was believed to have been infected by its owner, Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said. ‘It’s important that owners of house pets follow this advice: patients with COVID-19 should as a precaution avoid contact wi
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