COVID-19 Human-to-animal transmission of the new coronavirus. What we know.
A number of clients have asked us if their pets can contract the COVID-19 coronavirus. Here is a list of the questions we are most frequently asked and what we know. We’ve also included a number of links to local and regional government organizations that can provide you with regularly updated information.
Is it True That Pets Can Contract COVID-19?
On February 22nd, a Pomeranian breed dog, living with a Hong Kong resident infected with COVID-19, tested weakly positive for the virus. After a full week in quarantine and repeated testing, experts from two Hong Kong Universities and the World Health Organization now believe that the case is proof that humans can pass the virus onto pets; however they underline these additional facts regarding the case:
- Though the dog tested positive, he remains happy, healthy, and asymptomatic.
- Researchers do not know if the positive test results reflect active infection with the virus or the presence of innocuous viral particles.
- Based on previous experience with SARS, most believe that dogs or cats that somehow acquire the COVID-19 virus will NOT be able to transmit the disease onto another human or animal.
Still, the virus is new and there is much to learn about it. As a precaution, authorities recommend that you limit your exposure to your pet if your are sick with the virus, that you thoroughly wash your hands after interacting with your pet, and that you don’t allow your pet to lick your face.
“A pet dog had repeatedly tested weak positive for the COVID-19 in Hong Kong, indicating low-level infection with the virus… Experts from two Hong Kong universities and the World Organization for Animal Health unanimously agreed that these results suggest that the dog has a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission” Xinhua 020-03-04 22:15:00
Should I Buy A Mask For My Dog?
No. It is unlikely that dogs can contract COVID-19 unless exposed to significant amounts of the virus. Even then, it is extremely unlikely that the dog will get sick or be able to transmit the virus to another pet or to a human.
Should I Take Precautions When Walking My Dog?
You are more at risk of contracting COVID-19 while walking your dog, than your dog. If you are concerned about contracting COVID-19 try to keep six feet from others and frequently wash your hands.
Will You See My Pet If I Am Worried That He’s Sick With COVID-19?
Yes. If your pet is not well, you should call our office. If, after talking with you, we agree with your concern that your pet is infected with COVID-19, we can set up a special triage station where we can examine your pet without risking exposure to our team or our other patients to the virus. Otherwise, we can see your pet as we would any of our other patients.
If There Are Restrictions On Travel, Will Your Office Be Open?
We are planning on maintaining normal business hours. In the event that school or daycare closings prevent some of our employees with children from coming to work, we may have to restrict our caseload to emergency care only and reschedule all non-urgent care. In such cases we will alert you by phone and post updates on our social media pages and on our website.
What Are You Doing To Limit Transmission of the Virus?
We have agreed as a team to not come to work if we are showing signs of infection with COVID-19 or if we feel as though we’ve been exposed. We are doing this to keep our other team members, you, and our community safe. We have placed hand sanitizers in all rooms including the lobby and requested that our clients practice good respiratory etiquette when sneezing or coughing. We sanitize every room before every appointment. If you wish to wait in your car and not in our lobby until we are ready to see your pet, just let us know and we can text you when your pet’s exam room is free so that you can bypass our lobby and immediately start your pet’s appointment.
Hope this helps, but please reach out to us if you have additional questions! We’d love to answer them here and share them with everyone.
Additional Resources For Pet Owners
- The Royal College of London Veterinary School: Updated page on the possibility of dogs and cats becoming infected with CORVID-19
- The American Veterinary Medical Association: America’s leading authority on veterinary care has released a statement on transmission and infection.
- The World Small Animal Veterinary Association: One of the world’s biggest veterinary associations also discusses CORVID-19 and pets.
- The Center for Disease Control: Our nation’s top healthcare advisors have built a comprehensive resource for people and pet owners. Includes FAQs.