To the best of current scientific knowledge, can you get the coronavirus called Covid-19 from your dog or cat? Or give it to them?
Dogs in Hong Kong test positive
Panic began among pet owners this week when a 17-year-old Pomeranian in China tested “weakly” positive for the coronavirus during quarantine, and then died three days after returning home. A second dog that lived in the same house, however, consistently tested negative during quarantine.
Overnight the internet exploded with concern from worried pet owners.
“That was a weak positive in the dog. We don’t even know if that was a real positive,” Williams said, pointing out that the Pomeranian also tested negative on several occasions.
“The Pomeranian was never sick with the illness, and it was released from quarantine and then died,” said Dr. Dana Varble, chief veterinary officer for the North American Veterinary Community, which provides continuing education for veterinary professionals.
“We don’t know what the dog died of because they didn’t do an autopsy, but this dog was extremely elderly and had multiple underlying health conditions,” Varble said.
On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department announced another dog in quarantine, a German Shepard, had tested positive for Covid-19. However, a mixed breed dog from the same home tested negative, and neither it nor the German Shepard have shown any signs of disease, a spokesperson for the department said.
In addition, “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of Covid-19 for humans or that this virus can cause the disease in dogs,” the spokesperson said.
To put this into perspective, Varble points to a recent test of thousands of household pets for Covid-19 by a veterinary diagnostic company.
“They tested thousands of dogs and cats for this virus and found no positive results in pets, so we believe that the likelihood of dogs or cats contracting this is extremely low at this time,” Varble said.
Is there no scenario where we might contract the virus from a pet — say its fur?
‘In theory, if a patient with a virus in their nose rubbed their nose and got a bunch of virus on their hand and then petted their dog,” Williams said, “and then another family member petted that dog in the exact same place and then rubbed their nose, maybe they could transmit it.
“But if you’re living in a home with a person who has the virus, the risk factor is that human, not the pets,” he added.
What should pet parents do?
“Embrace your pets,” Williams advised. “Pets play a vital psycho-psychological role for their owners, specially now when everybody’s feeling so isolated and alone.”