Dog owners who walk their pooches are 78% more likely to come down with COVID-19, a new study claims.
Researchers from the University of Granada surveyed 2,086 people about their daily habits during the pandemic to assess the risk of various activities, according to a paper in the journal Environmental Research.
They found that people who walked their dogs had a significantly higher chance of catching the virus — with an increased risk of 78% compared to the average person.
Meanwhile, owning cats or other types of pets didn’t appear to put someone at more risk for becoming infected with the virus, researchers said.
“These results point to living with dogs as a strong risk factor for COVID-19 infection,” researchers wrote.
Though the findings indicated there is a “higher contagion among dog owners,” more research is needed to determine whether pooches play a direct role in spreading the virus, the report said.
There is no conclusive research that proves dog-to-human transmission is possible if a dog becomes infected, however, researchers suggest pooches could spread the virus by touching contaminated surfaces in public and then walking the germs throughout their owner’s home.
Professor Cristina Sanchez Gonzalez, one of the study’s authors, said dog owners should take extra care to practice good hygiene, the Sun reported.
She added that decisions to close areas such as playgrounds “didn’t make sense” when areas such as dog parks were able to remain open.
“In the midst of a pandemic and in the absence of an effective treatment or vaccine, preventive hygiene measures are the only salvation, and these measures should also be applied to dogs, which, according to our study, appear to directly or indirectly increase the risk of contracting the virus,” she said.