If you’re a pet owner, working from home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic means you’re spending a lot of extra time with your furry friend.
That’s great news overall (has your pupper ever gotten this much attention?), but it also might heighten your worries about how the coronavirus could affect your pet: If you think you have it, could you pass it onto your dog or cat? Have any household pets contracted the virus at this point? Should you include your pet in your preparedness plan? And what do you do about potty time if you’re self-quarantined?
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Below, veterinarians and other animal experts address some of your top pet-related coronavirus concerns.
Can my animal become infected?
Anxieties are already running high and if you’re a pet owner, your concerns might be elevated after hearing that the first dog who tested “weakly positive” for coronavirus infection died at home in Hong Kong this week.
First, for some background: The dog, a 17-year-old Pomeranian, was put in quarantine in late February after his owner contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The owner has since recovered. The Pom never showed symptoms, even as it was repeatedly tested during its quarantine.
A total of five tests from its nasal and oral samples reportedly returned “weak positive” results for the virus ― but the dog was eventually allowed to go home after samples came back negative.
“Although the dog from Hong Kong had multiple weak positive test results for the virus, antibodies were not detected in the dog’s blood, suggesting the dog may not have been infected,” Jane Sykes, a professor of small animal medicine at the University of California-Davis school of veterinary medicine, told HuffPost.
“The tests used to detect the virus have the potential to detect both viable (‘alive’) and nonviable (‘dead’) virus, and any virus detected maybe just virus that happens to be contaminating a dog’s nose or haircoat,” she explained.
The dog died on Monday, after being released over the weekend. (The owner won’t allow an autopsy report, so the exact cause of death is unknown, but hey, the little guy was 17 years old.)
The World Health Organization and other experts still say there is no meaningful evidence that pets can spread the infection.
Things could rapidly change, of course, but experts we spoke to stressed the same thing: Your pet isn’t likely to get the coronavirus or give it to you.
“I think we are far enough into this pandemic that if animals were, in fact, able to be infected, we would have already heard of a report on an ill dog and/or cats presenting to various veterinary hospitals throughout the world,” said Jerry Klein, the chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club.
First published on Huffingtonpostus