On our last update we wrote of a dog in Hong Kong testing positive for COVID-19 (the new Coronavirus strain).
Although further tests may be needed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that “to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.”
Information on the tests
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) took samples from the elderly Pomeranian’s nose and mouth, and also tested the faeces. They used a technique called real time RT-PCR (Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction). This sensitive test showed that the faecal sample was negative, and that the oral and nasal samples were only weakly positive. This means that low levels of the virus were found. A blood test was also done to check if the dog’s immune system was creating antibodies to respond to the virus. The blood test showed that at this stage, the dog did not have a measurable number of antibodies to the virus in its blood.
What to do
Although so far the news regarding pets is good, what should you do now? The WHO and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommend that until we get more information, it’s best to be a little cautious. We have no reports of pets catching COVID-19, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful in this case.
Tips from the Experts
The AVMA recommended the following:
- If you have COVID-19, limit your contact with animals, just in case. In the meantime, a friend or family member can care for your pet: this includes feeding and walking the pet. You should also avoid touching your pet
- If you must care for your pet, or have a service animal, wear a face mask; avoid hugging, petting or kissing your animal; and wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your pet. Do not share any dishes, utensils, or bedding with your pet.
- If you are ill with COVID-19, make sure to tell your doctor and public health official that you have animals at home.
- Even if you don’t have COVID-19, it’s good to be prepared in case you need to self-quarantine. Have a minimum of 2 weeks of supplies, such as food and any medicines, at home.
AVMA COVID-19: What veterinarians need to know: https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19