According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is no evidence so far that animals such as dogs and cats become ill from this virus. However, experts say it's important to remember that viruses can sometimes infect a species but not cause illness in that species, nor become transmissible to others.
Here, BHG answers all your questions based on the latest official and leading organisations around your pet's risk of contracting and spreading corononvirus (COVID-19).
Q. What happened with the Hong Kong dog that tested positive to COVID-19?
A. Last week Hong Kong quarantined the dog of a coronavirus patient, in what could be the first case of human-to-animal transmission. The dog showed no signs or symptoms of the virus. The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said the dog's nasal and oral cavities tested "weak positive".
However, experts say the tests used to detect coronavirus could pick up even the minute amounts present on any surface. While the dog tested positive, WHO says there is no evidence pets can be a source, and experts caution against pets as spreaders of the virus.
Q. What are the concerns regarding pets that have been in contact with people infected with this virus?
A. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Scientific and One Health Committees states that: “While SARS-Cov-2 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
"Importantly, there is limited evidence that companion animals including pets such as dogs and cats, can become infected with SARS-Cov-2. Although there is no evidence that pets play a role in the epidemiology of COVID-19, strict hand hygiene should be maintained, especially if dealing with an animal that has been in contact with an infected person.”
Q. Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?
A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following:
“You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 try to limit the amount of contact they have with their pets. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, limit the amount of direct contact as much as possible, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you need to care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, ensure you continue to maintain good hygiene practices, such as washing hands before and after interacting with pets and wear a face mask.”