Can Pets Get COVID-19?

Although it is unlikely that domestic animals play a role in COVID-19 transmission between people in the beginning of this month it was reported that the dog in Hong Kong has been a positive test result . Experts still don’t understand what this means.

A dog in Hong Kong has been quarantined and is currently testing negative , but her previous positive tests are also consistent with the idea that the dog may have had a “low level” infection. (The dog has never had any symptoms.)

The University of Illinois Veterinary College has an article for dog owners that emphasizes that even with this new information, “There is currently no indication that pets can spread the virus or get sick from the virus.”

(By the way, if you’ve heard of canine coronavirus , it’s a completely different virus. There are human and animal coronaviruses that cause the common cold, but they are not close relatives of the virus that causes COVID-19.)

What about animals other than dogs? So far, we still don’t know for sure if this coronavirus can infect animals other than humans. Early analysis of his RNA (genetic material similar to DNA) found similarities to the coronaviruses infecting bats . But the bat virus may just be a distant relative; the virus as we know it may have stalled in other species along the way. If there is an “animal reservoir” of the virus, as epidemiologists call it, we have not figured out what it is.

What does this mean for pet owners?

Unless more information arrives, there is probably no need to change the way you interact with your pets when you are healthy. The CDC states:

There is no reason to believe that any animals, including pets, in the United States could be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals contracting COVID-19.

However, if you are sick, you should still avoid contact with pets whenever possible. As veterinarian Scott Wise, who studies human-to-animal transmission, told the Washington Post , “If I isolate myself at home and live in a basement, away from other people, but my cat comes to me and sits on my lap, and I cough on it and I stroke him, and he runs upstairs, rubs against my child and goes out into the street, then we may have a little problem. “

The World Health Organization agrees with the CDC that there is no evidence that pets are dangerous to us, or vice versa, but also emphasizes that there is a lot we don’t know:

Although there has been one case of dog infection in Hong Kong, there is no evidence to date that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread by airborne droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, wash your hands often and thoroughly.

WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19-related topics and will update them as new results emerge.


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