Coronavirus in Dogs: What You Need to Know
Our friends at Banfield Pet Hospital are here to help answer questions about COVID-19 and your beloved pup.
Coronavirus and COVID-19 headlines are taking over the news. Despite the near constant flow of information, however, there’s still plenty of worry, concern, and questions that probably still feel unanswered. It’s been said that animals (bats) are the likely original source, and that the virus mutated through another unknown animal species, which led to human infection. It was also reported that the first dog belonging to an infected human tested “weakly positive” for the virus in Hong Kong, but its blood test was negative for COVID-19. While we can’t pretend to have every answer, we gathered our favorite veterinarians to take on some of the most common ones that concern your pet.
What does Coronavirus and COVID-19 mean for your pet?
Recently, public health officials recommended that people who are infected should quarantine themselves from other people and pets. Of course, this brings up some important questions: Could your pet get infected and/or infect people? Or what to do if your dog shows signs of a respiratory infection like sneezing, nasal congestion, and coughing – does this mean they are infected?” Based on what we know now, and what is known about other coronaviruses, there is limited evidence to support risk of COVID-19 to your pet — and no evidence that you are at risk from your pet. But please remember this is a novel virus, meaning one that has not been seen before. As such, research and testing are ongoing, and much still remains unknown.
But what about that dog in Hong Kong?
According to the latest reports from the Hong Kong SAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, the dog’s blood test was negative for COVID-19, but in an abundance of caution, they are keeping the dog for further evaluation as more is learned about the virus.
The important things to remember are:
- This dog appears to be healthy – it is not showing any signs of illness; this dog was tested because its owner is a confirmed case.
- Although the investigation continues, the relevance of this “low level of infection” remains unknown. Currently, there is no evidence that dogs or cats can be a source of coronavirus infection to humans or other animals.
But if there isn’t evidence that pets can cause human infection, why are some health officials recommending that infected people quarantine themselves from people and pets? They’re being cautious, because we don’t know enough about this specific coronavirus to say there is no risk at this stage.
What can you do with what you know?
In addition to following public health officials’ recommendations regarding quarantining infected people from pets, here are some general guidelines every pet owner should follow:
- Wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet; this reduces the transfer of dirt and germs between you and your pet.
- Avoid contact with wildlife, including those kept as pets.
- Routinely clean and disinfect animal contact surfaces such as cages and feeding areas, as well as immediately after contact with high-risk animals, such as wildlife and stray or free-roaming dogs and cats.
- If your pet shows signs of not feeling well, contact your vet; they can advise you on whether to come in for an appointment.
- Follow general best practices for yourself, including routine hand hygiene. If you feel like you are developing flu-like symptoms, stay home and call your medical provider for advice on next steps.
To get the latest information, always refer to reliable sources like the ones listed below. Stay informed, stay calm, and enjoy your quality time with your family and pet! For more information, visit:
- World Small Animal Veterinary Association: Coronavirus and Companion Animals Advice
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE): Questions and Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)