Over the past few months, with cases of infected people increasing at alarming rates around the world, constant information and news about the virus has become simply inescapable. Though the news can be overwhelming and even misleading at times, one such news revolved around the possibility of our furry friends and whether they could get or pass on COVID-19 to their owners.
This February, the first case reported in Hong Kong centered on a dog testing a “weak positive” to COVID-19. This dog had an owner who had also tested positive to the virus and the concern was that the dog had become infected and had possibly passed it on to his owner. The release of this news immediately caused panic amongst citizens and lead to the mass abandonment and mistreatment of hundreds of household pets. According to CNN, a group by the name of “Urban Construction Administration” threatened to kill cats and dogs that were outside in an attempt to prevent further transmission of the disease. Tragically, a number of other organizations in China also stated that unattended pets would be killed “without exception.” Upon further investigation, however, it was later found that the dog in question had traces of the virus in its nasal cavity and mouth, suggesting it was a case of human-to-animal transmission. After about a week, the dog tested negative and was released from quarantine.
Since then, both the Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) have issued statements declaring that there is no concrete evidence that pets can be infected with COVID-19.
More recently on March 18th, two more dogs were placed in quarantine after their owners tested positive for COVID-19, but only one of them tested positive for the virus. As with the previous case, the authorities believe this is another instance of human-to-animal transmission. There still being no evidence to the fear that pets could transmit COVID-19 onto others.
The American Veterinary Medical Association states that as of March 26th, “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.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) have also stated, “to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.”
So while those who are already infected with COVID-19 should limit their contact with their animals to continue to err on the side of caution, for those of us who still remain healthy, we encourage you to not practice social distancing with your furry friend. Your little mate can not give you COVID-19, but he can give you much needed love and affection in these unprecedented times.
From all of us at Rufus & Coco, stay safe and keep on hugging your pet!