Covid-19 and your pet: Can my dog get Covid-19 coronavirus

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

Dog owners want answers. Can my dog get the COVID-19 coronavirus? Can my dog give me the COVID-19 coronavirus? As I shared in an earlier post, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for COVID-19. When I posted that, there was still a lot about COVID-19 and pets that we didn't know. But what's happened since then? Have there been any more dogs that tested positive for COVID-19? In total, how many dogs have tested positive for COVID-19? What happened to the dogs that tested positive for COVID-19? 

Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

Let's dig in! According to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as of May 8, two dogs in Hong Kong and one dog in North Carolina have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

The first dog in Hong Kong tested a weak positive several times while it was quarantined, suggesting that it was infected with the virus, as opposed to just contaminated. Other pets in the household tested negative. When a blood sample was tested for antibodies it was reported as negative, however, there can be false negatives for tests of this nature.

 Sadly, on March 17- two days after the dog was released from quarantine- it died suddenly. The owner declined a postmortem, leaving behind a lot of questions. UC Davis reported that "because it was a 17-year-old dog with advanced cardiac disease that showed no other signs during quarantine, there is a high likelihood that death was unrelated to coronavirus infection. On March 19, it was revealed that further testing done on the blood sample collected from the Pomeranian in early March showed that it was actually positive, suggesting that the dog had mounted an immune response to the virus."

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

The second dog that tested positive in Hong Kong was a 2-year-old German shepherd that lived with a COVID-19 positive person. On March 19 it was reported that the dog tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but the other household dog tested negative. Both dogs were quarantined together. The dog was apparently healthy and showed no symptoms of any kind. 

The pug that tested positive for COVID-19 in North Caroline was living with three people who all tested positive for COVID-19. The other two pets in the household tested negative. It was reported on April 27, and while the pug showed some respiratory symptoms, after a few days it made a full recovery.

While there is evidence that dogs can test positive for COVID-19, the virus does not attack dogs in the same way it does humans. It's also doesn't appear to be contagious from dog to dog. UC Davis reports that "as of March 3, the Hong Kong AFCD conducted tests on 27 dogs and 15 cats quarantined from households with confirmed COVID-19 cases or persons in close contact with confirmed patients. Only the two dogs and the cat tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. None of the animals had clinical signs of disease." IDEXX Laboratory also conducted tests on more than 4000 samples taken from dogs, cats, and horses. No evidence of coronavirus was found. 

I think it's safe to say that we should not be worried about COVID-19 and our dogs. If you are COVID-19 positive, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends limiting contact with your dog, washing your hands often, and using a common-sense approach to interactions with your dog. Your primary focus should be stopping the spread of coronavirus to other people. 

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

Can my dog give me COVID-19 coronavirus?

There are two ways to answer this question: looking at your dog as a virus carrier that would infect you from nasal or oral droplets and looking at your dog acting as a fomite that would infect you from contact transfer (eg. you pet your dog and get viable virus particles on your hand, then touch your mouth or nose, making you infected). Let's start with the fomite possibility.

According to a document released by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) there are no reports of dogs acting as fomites and infecting humans. "An extensive literature review did not find any studies that evaluated fur, hair, skin, or hides as a source of transmission from cats or dogs." Pet fur is soft and porous, making it a less than ideal place for viable virus particles to live. 

"Coronaviruses can persist in the environment for days, although it varies by surface. Viruses do not survive as long on porous surfaces (e.g. cotton, paper) compared to non-porous surfaces (e.g. stainless steel, plastic)."

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

The CVMA document also states that not only is there no evidence that dogs can transmit COVID-19 to other dogs, there is also no evidence that dogs can transmit COVID-19 to humans. There have been no reported cases of dog to person transmission. Looking at the evidence available to us, dogs can not transmit the COVID-19 coronavirus to people- or other dogs. 

Here's the dog-gone truth about COVID-19 and your dog.  There is no reason to be afraid your dog will give you COVID-19. Evidence suggests that your dog can not give you COVID-19 coronavirus. There is no reason to re-home or surrender your dog for fear that it has COVID-19. If your dog has respiratory symptoms, there is no reason to assume that it has the novel coronavirus. 

The COVID-19 crisis has caused a secondary pandemic- the mental health crisis. Self-isolation and physical distancing are taking a mental toll on many people. Right now we need our dogs more than ever- and they need us. So don't be afraid! Hopefully, it won't be long before the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past, but the love we feel for our dogs will last forever.

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog get COVID-19 coronavirus?

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