Taking your dog for daily walks could increase your risk of catching coronavirus by a staggering 78%.
Researchers in Spain have studied how different behaviours change people's likelihood of catching the virus — and found getting supermarket deliveries and dog-walking were significant factors.
This was because dogs could be catching the virus and spreading it, or transporting it by touching contaminated surfaces in public before taking it home and jumping on their owners.
It is still unclear as to the extent of which animals can carry Covid-19 but there have been confirmed cases in cats and dogs of the disease which came from bats via another species.
Animals have not been found to suffer from symptoms of the virus associated with human infection.
As a result of the study, scientists claim dog owners should be extra careful about hygiene during and after taking their pet outdoors.
The same research found not working from home caused the risk to rise by 76%.
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And living with a dog which they took for walks outside raised someone's risk by 78%.
Professor Cristina Sánchez González said: "The results of our research warn of increased contagion among dog-owners.
"The reason for this higher prevalence has yet to be elucidated. Taking into account the current scarcity of resources to carry out the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, the possibility of diagnosis in dogs is extremely unlikely."
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Professor Sánchez González said there was not enough information available to be able to tell whether dogs spread the virus in the same way humans do or simply acted as a surface that people could pick the virus up from.
She added that the virus could even spread in dogs' faeces.
It was concluded from the study that it made no sense that children's playgrounds should be shut out of fear of the virus spreading when dog parks could remain open.
Other aspects of people's lives, such as who they lived with, their jobs or other pets, had no effect on the extra risk brought by the dog in the research.
Professor Sánchez González added: "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."
The study was published in the journal Environmental Research.
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