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 get Coronavirus from a human? (As well as cats?)
According to the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus COV-19 spreads from humans to humans in close contact via nasal and oral pathway.
As of now, there’s no evidence that pets could get coronavirus from contact with an infected human - hence the human to animal transmission theory is yet to be validated at this point.
That said, cats and dogs are mammals too, there is a small chance your dog tested positive. They have many of the same types of receptors on their cells that we do. Therefore, the virus could theoretically attach to these receptors. But the chances of the Coronavirus COV-19 going into their cells and replicating are very slim.
Can dogs give you Coronavirus?
Similarly, there were also fears over coronavirus spreading to pets during the SARS (another type of coronavirus) outbreak in 2003 when over 280 people died in Hong Kong.
It is true that dogs and cats get coronaviruses -- but typically they are different viruses compared to the COVID-19 outbreak, said Jane Gray, Hong Kong SPCA's chief veterinary surgeon. The strains dogs and cats typically get don't cause respiratory problems.
Should I quarantine my pet?
This is only beneficial to test how animals are affected by a newly found disease, not in a common situations.
Many pet owners in central China equip their pets with tiny face masks, but there's little advantage to that — in fact, it's can be even more distressing for the pet and could cause them to show clinical signs of induced mental conditions.
Animal owners should then stick to the basics: proper hygiene.
WHO advises owners to wash their hands with soap after handling pets. If the dog owners are especially worried, they should clean the paws of their dog with antiseptic wipes after having had a walk outside — but they should be careful not to overdo it.
In addition, the CDC recommends that we do not allow our pets to come into contact with other humans or animals outside the household for the time being. If a person in your home becomes infected with COVID-19, it is important that he or she isolates from all other people and animals.
Can veterinarians test for COVID-19 in pets?
Yes. The College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory recently acquired the necessary equipment to screen for the current COVID-19 in dogs. They expect the veterinarians to have access to the check beginning on March 15.
Unlike human, where you can get tested, though not easily, testing for pets like dogs and cats are still not prioritized.
Though the test may be available, it could be costly as there is a limited capacity at labs - some may also be at max capacity due to other demands.
So what about the Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong... and other zoo animals testing positive?
The single dog who tested a “weak positive” for infection with COVID-19, who remains in quarantine, has not shown any clinical signs of the Coronavirus infection. It’s also the only dog that has shown this sort of result. Also, keep in mind that dogs are not known to be able to transfer it to humans.
Therefore, no need to fear for the furry animals in your home. Be sure to just wash your hands with soaps frequently, and take care of yourself and your loved ones. If you have history of exposure and are showing symptoms of Coronavirus, you may be able to meet the CDC criteria for testing.
While the cats are the first known pets to test positive in the U.S., a handful of tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo have tested positive for the virus. While the virus appears to be transmissible from humans to animals, scientists say they have thus far not seen evidence indicating animals can pass it on to people. Scientists in Hong Kong drew similar conclusions after a dog tested positive earlier this year. “We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets,” said Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC official who works on human-animal health connections, adding that people should not rush to get their pets tested. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”