Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people and others cause illness in certain types of animals.
Coronaviruses that infect animals can become able to infect people, but this is rare.
We do not have evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.
We do not have evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products imported pose a risk for spreading the novel coronavirus in the United States.
On Thursday, February 27, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that samples obtained on February 26 from the nasal and oral cavities of a pet dog (a 17-year-old Pomeranian whose owner had been diagnosed with COVID-19) had tested “weak positive” for SARS-CoV-2, using a real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) test. A fecal sample was negative. Testing was repeated on February 28, March 2, and March 5 with continued “weak positive” results (nasal and oral sample, nasal sample, nasal sample, respectively). The RT PCR test is sensitive, specic, and does not crossreact with other coronaviruses of dogs or cats. A “weak positive” result suggests a small quantity of SARS-CoV-2 RNA was present in the samples, but does not distinguish between RNA detected from intact virus and fragments of RNA. To better understand what this means, additional testing has been, and continues to be, conducted.
Part of that testing is serology to see if the dog is mounting an immune response to the virus. An acute phase sample was negative, indicating there are currently not measurable amounts of antibodies to the virus in the dog’s blood. This does not mean the dog is not infected with the virus, because it is not uncommon to have a negative result in earlier stages of infection. It can take 14 days or more for measurable levels of antibodies to be detected. A second “convalescent” phase sample will be obtained later for further testing. In addition, gene sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the dog and its close human contacts has been done and the viral sequences are very similar
Testing has been conducted by the laboratories of the AFCD and the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong. The latter is an accredited reference laboratory for the WHO for the testing of SARS-CoV-2.
This pet dog is one of two pet dogs under quarantine in separate rooms in a facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge; the second pet dog has had negative results of tests for the virus. The pet dogs are being cared for and neither has shown any signs of being ill with COVID-19.
In other testing, IDEXX announced on March 13 that it had evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of its new veterinary test system for the COVID-19 virus and had obtained no positive results. The specimens used for test development and validation were obtained from specimens submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for PCR testing.
Considering this information in total, infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations (CDC, OIE, WHO) agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19, out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If you are ill with COVID-19, be sure to tell your physician and public health ocial that you have a pet or other animal in your home. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with your pet or service animal. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. Additional guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the CDC.
For responsible pet owners, preparing in advance is key. Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared, with at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food and any needed medications. Usually we think about emergency kits like this in terms of what might be needed for an evacuation, but it’s also good to have one prepared in the case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.
While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.
more information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html