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Guidance for DHS Working Dog Handlers Related to COVID-19

Updated 07/14/2020


There is no evidence or indication that COVID-19 can be transmitted by a canine to a human. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Veterinary Medical Association, and World Health Organization. While animals can become contaminated like a door knob or other object, the risk of transmission to a human is considered low.

For DHS canine teams, two situations exist:

1. The working dog is home kenneled with the handler, or 2. The working dog is kenneled at a facility— government owned, leased, or contracted.

Home Kenneled Canines

If the dog is home kenneled, then the CDC guidance for pets should be followed. It is recommended that individuals ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

Handlers should refer to Agency/Component policy guidance. If possible, have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your dog. If you must care for your dog, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug the dog, and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.

In addition, you should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions. Non-Home Kenneled Canines

If the dog is kenneled outside of the home, all equipment (including government vehicles) used by the COVID-19 positive individual should be disinfected in accordance with appropriate guidance. Out of an abundance of caution, the dog should be bathed. You should also avoid letting the dog lick or kiss your face. Again, practice good hygiene during those interactions.

Transmission of COVID-19

As of July 10th, 2020, COVID-19 has been detected in 36 animals worldwide including 17 in the US (9 dogs worldwide including 5 in the US) with 2 showing mild clinical signs. Currently, there has not been a documented case of these animals serving as a source of infection. Veterinary experts believe it is unlikely they could serve as a conduit of infection between people. There is a low possibility that a person with COVID-19 could sneeze or otherwise contaminate a pet, and then another individual could touch that animal and contract the disease. Animals living with sick individuals should be kept away from other people and other animals (quarantined at home), just as people who live with sick individuals must avoid contact with others.

  • If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet or working animal as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions.

Practice Good Hygiene

Everyone should practice good hygiene during and after all interactions:

  • Wash hands before and after interacting with your pet or working animal.

  • Ensure your pet is kept well-groomed.

  • Regularly clean and disinfect your canine’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys.

Reference Sources

  • College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: navirus-pets/

  • American Veterinary Medical Association: tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19

For more information, please contact Dr. John P. Sanders, OCHCO ( This Safety and Health Information Bulletin is not a standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obligations. The Bulletin is advisory in nature, for internal DHS use only, informational in content, and is intended to assist supervisors and employees in providing a safe and healthful workplace.


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