New CDC Guidance


On April 22nd (and revised on the 23rd), the CDC announced new guidance as it relates to how families should handle their pets as it relates to the COVID-19 virus.  Below is some plain language clarity about what is known and what is unknown at this time to help everyone make sense of the new guidance:

What we know

In truth, this is a fairly short list.  When the doctors speak, they tend to talk about not having enough information to make definitive conclusions.  So for the sake of keeping it clear, we’ll only list what we definitively know here.  Citations are provided so the reader can understand our sources.

  1. A “coronavirus” is a family of different viruses that can infect either humans or animals.[1]
  2. In some rare cases, we know that animals can transmit the virus to humans. In recent history, we know that the SARS and MERS viruses were transmitted this way.  With this particular virus, while the virus may have started out coming from an animal, it is now primarily transmitted from human to human.[2]
  3. The virus is able to survive on various surface types outside of a human / animal host. The length of time the virus can survive varies depending on the type of surface.[3]
  4. Globally, four (4) domesticated animals [1 dog and 3 cats] have tested positive for the COVID19 virus. All of the animals in question were the pets of infected owners or neighborhoods.  The cats all either made or are expected to make a full recovery.[4]
  5. The dog (a 17 year old Pomeranian) died shortly after being released from quarantine. The dog never showed any symptoms of the disease and the cause of death is unknown since the owner “declined to do an autopsy.”[5]

There have been other media reported cases of animal infections – at least two other dogs that we could find – but for purposes of this entry, we’re relying only on official sources.  These other cases have yet to be reported to the OIE and so were not captured here.

What is implied

As with anything new, we have a lot to learn.  Scientists and policy makers are offering guidance largely based on what the evidence shows (or, more typically, what it doesn’t show).  We characterize the items in this list as “Things we think are true, but more study is needed to know for sure.”

  1. “There’s no evidence that the virus is transmitted from a pet to a human. Now obviously, is that impossible?  I mean, biologically . . . you know . . . anything is possible, but there’s no evidence what so ever that we’ve seen from an epidemiological standpoint that pets can be transmitters within the household.”[6]  This sentiment is also clearly expressed by the US Centers for Disease Control, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the World Organization for Animal Health.
  2. Based on the cases noted above, it would seem that animals can potentially catch the virus from humans, but further research is needed to verify if that’s true.[7]
  3. While we know that some surface types can remain contaminated with the virus for a period of time, it’s believed that since animal fur is “pourous” and “fibrous” “it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet.” These surface types are known to “absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch.”[8]

So What Does This All Mean?

 To put it simply:  in the absence of absolute knowledge, pet owners should be careful.  While we’re not doctors, we are dog owners / dog lovers.  We love our dogs immensely.  In our family, they are the center of everything that gives us joy and happiness.  At Friends of Toto, our customer’s dogs have become extensions of our family and we care for them too!

In light of these findings, we’ve been contemplating:

  • Should we shut down our operation if there’s even a remote chance (Dr Fauci: “Anything is possible”) that an asymptomatic, infected dog could come to our facility and possibly transmit the virus to another dog who could get sick or, worse, bring it to their family to get sick / infect one of our team members?

Certainly based on the evidence so far, it would seem like this is an extreme conclusion.  As the doctor’s say:  There’s no evidence dogs can pass it to humans and there’s no evidence that dogs can even be carriers of the virus.  If anything, it would seem that the greater risk is that one of our team members could infect one of the dogs (more on that shortly).  At the same time, it is the conclusion of the CDC and the AVMA (although not the World Organization for Animal Health), that pet owners should take strides to isolate their pets from outside sources where infections could be.

We have made efforts to get clarity from the CDC and the AVMA on why they feel the way they do.  Given the nature of the situation, we have not yet received a response.  Our Senator’s office indicated that it could take at least two weeks to get a response from the CDC.

Countering all of this is the positive, health benefits our services give our dogs.  These are things that all of our customers have come to know:

  • Dogs are social and typically crave social environments;
  • Dog sanitation is a must! It’s critical that dogs are properly groomed to avoid infections and other types of diseases;
  • Dogs are keen at intuition – they recognize our own stress and internalize it making our homes even more stressful than they already are! Giving them an outlet to get that excess energy out is crucial;
  • First responders and other healthcare / essential workers have long shifts right now and do not always have ready facilities to have someone “inside the home” watching them while they’re at work.

Since it’s known that primary transmission is between humans, we have taken steps so that there is no human to human contact in any of our transactions.  For example, human customers are not allowed indoors.  Drop off and pick up is strictly “no contact” with our added gate solution.  To make sure our team is safe, we’ve taken to constantly cleaning all surfaces that are touched or have a better possibility of transmitting the virus to a human (e.g. door knobs, desk counters, etc.).  Everyone wears masks inside to further contain any spread of the virus.

Still, we’re asking:  Is that enough?

For our family, we concluded that it was.  We reasoned that the world at large has a lot of potential risks.  The simple task of transporting the dogs from our home to the facility carries a degree of risk.  We take reasonable steps to mitigate those risks, but know that it’s not feasible to bubble wrap them and force them to stay safe.  We recognize that there are a lot of diseases out there that could hurt our pets.  Some of them . . . canine cough comes to mind . . . can still be prevalent even if they’ve been vaccinated.  We still expose them to that risk though because we know that the benefits they get from coming to Friends of Toto far outweigh the risk.

Ultimately, this is a decision that every family is going to have to make for themselves.  For Friends of Toto, we will remain open so long as we’re allowed to do so or until evidence arises that our services represent a present danger.  It is never our intention to see a pet get injured / sick.

The best solution is to present our customers with facts and let them decide what is best for their family.  We encourage dog owners to consult with their veterinarians on this decision.  Especially since the information about this disease grows so rapidly, it’s critical that you be armed with the latest information available.  Your vets will be able to help with that (along with respectable sources like the CDC, AVMA, OIE, etc.).  We stand ready to answer any questions you might have and will do our best to give that safe, clean, and fun environment you’ve come to expect from us.


[1] World Health Organization. (2020, April 17). Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID -19). Retrieved from

[2] US Centers for Disease Control. (2020, April 21). If you have animals. Retrieved from

[3] Radford G. Davis, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, Iowa State University.  Clinicians Brief. (2020, April 20).  SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19):  Fomites, Pets, & Transmission.  Retrieved from

[4] World Organization for Animal Health.  (2020, April 27).  Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).  Retrieved from:

[5] Lung, Natalie.  Bloomberg.  (2020, March 18).  Hong Kong Dog Dies After Release From Coronavirus Quarantine.  Retrieved from:

[6] Anthony Fauci, M.D. National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Director.  White House Coronavirus Briefing  (2020, April 22)

[7] US Centers for Disease Control. (2020, April 21). If you have animals. Retrieved from

[8] American Veterinary Medical Association (2020, March 15).  COVID-19:  FAQs FOR PET OWNERS.  Retrieved from:

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