We know the coronavirus COVID-19 originated from animals and you may have heard about a dog in Hong Kong testing positive for the coronavirus. So could our cats and dogs possibly get the Coronavirus, and even spread it to other animals and humans? A tiger recently tested positive for COVID-19 at a zoo in New York City and a few pets outside of the US have tested positive as well.
Can dogs contract COVID-19?
Dogs can contract certain types of coronaviruses, such as the canine respiratory coronavirus, but this specific novel coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is believed to not be a health threat to dogs. Two pet dogs in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19, and both of these dogs lived in homes with COVID-19 positive owners. Local health officials characterized the cases of the two dogs in Hong Kong as “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission,” and neither dog showed any signs of illness from the virus.
Hong Kong health officials have continued to test dogs and cats owned by people infected with the coronavirus. Officials there have stated that cases of infection in dogs appear to be infrequent. As of March 25, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department “conducted tests on 17 dogs and eight cats from households with confirmed COVID-19 cases or persons in close contact with confirmed patients, and only two dogs had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.”
Hong Kong officials stress that “these findings indicate that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus.”
Can other animals contract COVID-19?
Two pet cats, one in Hong Kong and one in Belgium, tested positive for COVID-19. Both of these cats lived in homes with COVID-19 positive owners. Two pet cats in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus. One cat displayed mild respiratory symptoms, and lived with an owner who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. The other cat also showed mild respiratory signs, and according to the CDC, “no individuals in the household were confirmed to be ill with COVID-19. The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home.”
A four-year-old female Malayan tiger named Nadia at New York’s Bronx Zoo was the first known case of COVID-19 in an animal in the United States. A total of eight big cats have been confirmed by the Wildlife Conservation Society that operates the Bronx Zoo to have been infected with the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. “All eight cats continue to do well. They are behaving normally, eating well, and their coughing is greatly reduced,” according to WCS. Nadia was tested under anaesthesia in order to obtain nose, throat, and respiratory tract samples. The other cats were tested through fecal samples.
All of these big cats are believed to have been infected by a zoo staff person who was not showing symptoms of COVID-19, or before that person developed symptoms. Dr. Jane Rooney, a veterinarian and USDA official, tells the Associated Press, “There doesn’t appear to be, at this time, any evidence that suggests that the animals can spread the virus to people or that they can be a source of infection in the United States.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association also reports on preliminary results of “experimental infection” of domestic cats, ferrets, hamsters, and dogs in China, but cautions that these results don’t represent real-world circumstances and should not be overly interpreted.
Can dogs spread COVID-19?
The World Health Organization states, “There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.” Covering your face with a cloth face covering can also help reduce the possibility of spreading droplets.
The CDC says that “while this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person.” Because of this type of spread, “there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this novel coronavirus.”
In households where a person has tested positive for the virus, the CDC recommends having another person in the household handle the daily care of the pet.