When the current outbreak of novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, first came to light in December 2019, researchers indicated that animals were the likely source of the virus. So people are naturally asking, Can my pet contract and transmit this virus? That question has become even more valid after one dog, the pet of an infected owner in Hong Kong, recently tested “weak positive” for the virus.
Researchers in Hong Kong have determined that the dog was infected by the virus at a “low level” and is being quarantined and undergoing further testing until the results return negative. The virus was found in the canine’s mouth and nose, which are dogs’ means of exploring their environment. As it stands, the dog is not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.
This appears to be an instance of human-to-animal transmission of the virus. Health experts are saying that there is no evidence that pets can get sick from the virus or transmit the disease to humans or other animals. However, that does not mean we should not take the same precautions that we would take to prevent the spread of germs from our pets to our families. For example, wash your hands often with soap and water before and after you interact with your pet. Also, do not touch your face or allow your pet to lick your face.
At the same time, COVID-19 is new and is still being researched, so veterinarians cannot be absolutely certain about the nature of its infection and spread. For more information, please see this February 29, 2020 advisory from The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). You may also wish to view this downloadable brochure for more tips and answers to common questions.
As always, if you see any symptoms of illness of any kind in your pet, please call your veterinarian to describe the symptoms and get instructions before you bring your pet to the animal hospital or clinic. If you yourself are experiencing any signs of respiratory illness, we advise that you please follow the directions of the health authorities; and we kindly request that you do not come to our facilities, but please call us to reschedule any upcoming appointment.
We wish you and your family the best of health!