According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pets do not appear to be easily infected with SARS-COV-2. It’s understandable when cases appear in the news, but so far there have been few cases. In fact, all cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals within the USA that are confirmed by testing conducted at the NVSL will be posted on the USDA/APHIS Web site and reported to the OIE.
The latest diagnosis was on June 2, when the USDA NVSL announced the first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 in a dog in the United States. This pet, a German Shepherd Dog, lived with one other dog and their two owners in New York state. One of the dogs’ owners had tested positive for, and the second had symptoms consistent with, COVID-19 prior to the German Shepherd Dog developing signs of respiratory illness. The second dog in the household remained apparently healthy. Samples taken from the affected German Shepherd Dog tested presumptive positive for SARS-CoV-2 by use of RT-PCR performed at a private veterinary laboratory, which then reported its results to state and federal officials.
Results of further laboratory tests performed at the NVSL on the original and additional samples collected from the German Shepherd Dog confirmed that this dog was infected with SARS-CoV-2. The dog was presumed to have been infected by its owners and is expected to make a full recovery. Results of serological tests conducted by the NVSL on the second dog in the household revealed virus-specific antibodies, indicating that although this dog never developed clinical signs of disease, it had been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
For earlier reports on animals and COVID-19, check our source: AVMA.org. An in-depth summary of these and other reported cases of naturally occurring SARS-CoV-2 infection in animals is available for those who wish to learn more. It will be updated regularly, so the AVMA encourages people to check back often.
What To Do to Keep Pets Safe During This Pandemic?
For pet owners, preparing in advance is key:
— Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared.
— Make sure you have at least two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food.
— Make sure you have 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.
Other appropriate practices include:
— Don’t let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
— Keep cats indoors, if possible, to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
— Walk dogs on a leash.
— Maintain at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
— Avoiding dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If you are ill with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed with a test):
— Restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would with other people;
— Have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick;
— Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
— If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
— 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.