Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pets

3/18/20 – UPDATE to information (below) originally posted on 3/16/20

The dog that contracted a “low level” COVID-19 infection from its owner has died.  When the 17 year old Pomeranian showed a “weak positive” test result on February 28th, members of the World Organization for Animal Health and Hong Kong University felt this may represent a potential of human to animal spread of the disease.  The patient was quarantined from February 26th to March 14th.  Multiple samples were collected during the quarantine and the patient eventually tested negative for COVID-19.  Per the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong (the overseeing body performing the quarantine):  “The negative result indicates that there is not a strong immune response and that there are not measurable amounts of antibodies in the blood at this stage.”  

At that point, the patient was allowed to return home and sadly died on March 16th.  The owner did not allow authorities to perform a necropsy exam to determine cause of death.   The medical history and information regarding the health of the pet prior to COVID-19 infection are not available.  Current testing being performed in the United States by Idexx Laboratories has yielded no positive results in the thousands of samples that have been processed for COVID-19.  Based upon the isolated nature of this case, experts still feel that companion animals do not pose risk to human in the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.  To minimize human contact in the face of the current pandemic, we do not advise appointments to test your pet for COVID-19.

3/16/20 4:00 PM

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pets

One dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  This dog belongs to a person that was sickened by the virus, tested via nasal and oral swabs as a “weak positive” for the virus, but has shown no symptoms of infection.  Please understand that the result is unsurprising given the presence of the virus in the pet’s environment.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no evidence that companion animals can spread COVID-19.  However, because much is still unknown about this novel Coronavirus, we recommend considering pets as potential carrying surfaces for the virus. (Please understand there is no current data on this.)  Thus, it is prudent to practice good hygiene when interacting with your pets. 

The following information is directly from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):

  •  Infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets become ill with COVID-19 or that they spread it to other animals, including people.
  • If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys).
  • Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them. 
  • As always, careful handwashing and other infection control practices can greatly reduce the chances of spreading any disease.

Based on the current information available, there is no evidence indicating that there is cause for concern regarding pets and the Coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.  Given that, this is a novel virus that has not been seen before and the veterinary community is closely monitoring this situation.  We will update our clients as necessary.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website

World Health Organization (WHO) website