Dogs Can Test Positive For Coronavirus But Can’t Pass It On To Humans

According to Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, your dog (or cat) cannot pass the coronavirus on to humans, although they can apparently test positive for a low level of the virus if they get it from their owner. This was after a dog came back with a weak positive test for the virus after swabs were taken from the canine’s nose and mouth.

This does NOT mean the dog that tested positive for the coronavirus actually had the disease. Here is a direct quote from the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

“This canine patient was in close contact with an infected human, who was likely shedding large quantities of the virus. This led to the virus being in the dog’s nose. There is no indication that the dog is sick or showing any symptoms. Authorities say they will continue to quarantine and test the dog to evaluate if the canine patient becomes ill. In short, there was coronavirus on the dog just like there was coronavirus on the floor in the room but the dog was not infected or diseased.”

Also according to this department, in their opinion, dogs are not a source of COVID-19 infection and they don’t get sick, even though they may test weakly positive for the virus. Some dog owners erroneously believe their dog has already been vaccinated against the corona virus because their immunization records say so. This is because coronaviruses cause a variety of illnesses in animals, including dogs. This particular coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is a new virus which is literally only a few months old. There is no vaccine available for humans and as per the information above, there is no evidence that your dog can actually become infected.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) agrees, stating that at present there is no evidence that suggests dogs or cats are sources of infection to humans. If your dog is at home and is not in contact with other dogs, as in a dog day care center or boarding, there is no reason to believe they are at any risk for coronavirus infection.

If you were to contract COVID-19 and are being treated at home, you should avoid contact with your pets or other animals. Have another person in your household take care of your dog while you are ill and totally avoid direct contact with your dog. This includes petting and snuggling, kissing or being kissed or licked by your dog.

If there is no one else to care for your dog, you should wash your hands both before and after you care for your dog and you should wear a face mask when you interact with your canine companion.

While there is no vaccine for dogs to protect them from this coronavirus, be sure your dog is up to date with bordetella, parainfluenza and canine influenza vaccine, as these diseases are the most common preventable respiratory illnesses in dogs.

This is a fluid situation as more information comes in and will keep you up to date!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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