A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong has confirmed that a German Shepherd pet dog that was sent to the AFCD has repeatedly tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
This comes as the second infected case involving a pet, following an earlier case in which a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog tested weak positive during repeated tests for the virus. The Pomeranian dog was the pet of the 85th Covid-19 infected patient in Hong Kong.
That dog died two days after it was released from quarantine.
The department said the cause of death couldn’t be determined after the owner, who recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, declined to conduct an autopsy.
There is No Evidence of Dog to Dog Covid-19 Transmission
However, a mixed breed dog from the same home tested negative, and neither it nor the German Shepard have shown any signs of disease, a spokesperson for the department said. In addition, “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of Covid-19 for humans or that this virus can cause the disease in dogs,” the spokesperson said.
A recent test of thousands of household pets for Covid-19 by a veterinary diagnostic company revealed that despite thousands of dogs and cats being tested for the virus, there was no positive results in pets. Based on this we believe that the likelihood of dogs or cats contracting the virus is extremely low.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
The World Health Organization however reported that your pet likely cannot transmit COVID-19 to you:
“While there has been instances of dogs being infected in Hong Kong, 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. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”
As a pet owner what can we do?
There is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets and livestock might be a source of COVID-19 infection in Malaysia at this time. However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
Wash your Hands
Although there is no current evidence that suggests the coronavirus can be transmitted to or from companion animals, it’s always a good idea to follow basic hygiene practices around animals. This includes washing your hands thoroughly throughout the day and before and after direct contact with your pets, their food or their supplies.
Stock Up on Pet Supplies
Prepare a kit with essential supplies to have on hand in the event of an emergency. Your emergency kit should include a 30-day supply of your pets’ medications, as well as at least two weeks’ worth of food.
Designate an Emergency Caregiver
Proactively identify someone who could help with their short- or long-term care in the event you are unable to care for your pet. Consider a family member, friend, neighbor or your favorite boarding facility.
Create a Pet Dossier
If your emergency caregiver’s assistance is needed, make it easier for them by having all of your pets’ information in one place. Consider including things like habits, food preferences, medical conditions and medications taken, veterinarian contact information, and any behavioral tendencies.
Veterinarians believe that your pets can’t get COVID-19.
Vets believe COVID-19 was probably on the aforementioned dog’s fur, but did not sicken the dog. “The dog never became clinically ill, and it remains unclear whether the dog tested positive from being kept in an environment with a COVID-19-infected human or if the dog truly became infected with COVID-19,” explains Christie Long, DVM, head of veterinary medicine at Modern Animal.
“Since the dog lives with a COVID-19 patient, the potential is significant for the positive test to have come as a result of the dog picking up the virus from the environment with its nose.”
Is there evidence that animals can transmit other diseases?
There is evidence of illnesses that can transmit from animals to people. These are known as zoonotic diseases. According to the CDC more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals.
Animals can transmit disease through many of the same methods humans can, via bodily fluids, feces, and surfaces like aquariums, water and food bowls, and barns. Food- and water-borne illnesses, like salmonella and E. Coli that are transmitted by raw meat and eggs or fruits and vegetables that contain trace amounts of feces, are also classified as zoonotic. Zoonotic illnesses impact young children, the immunocompromised, and those older than 65 more than others.
Whilst there are zoonotic diseases whereby animals spread diseases to humans, there is currently no evidence that dogs can transmit the Covid-19 to other dogs or to humans. So hug your fur-baby and stay safe.
We will keep you updated on any developments around pet safety and COVID-19 as it develops.