Animals and coronavirus: what we know to date

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Animals and coronavirus: what we know to date

Should you be worried about your animal companions catching coronavirus? Here’s what we know to date.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced “there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19”. According to their website, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low, though there is some evidence that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.

In June, a seven-year-old German Shepherd named Buddy became the first dog in the United States to be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. On July 11, Buddy passed away. This unfortunate event raised a lot of alarm and confusion surrounding coronavirus and pets, and revealed that dogs can in fact contract the virus. That said, it’s unclear whether Buddy’s death was caused by complications of the coronavirus, as he had also been diagnosed with lymphoma.

Based on the info we have at the time of this writing, the chances of a dog or cat catching COVID-19 is minimal – a statement confirmed by veterinarian Dr. Pete Wedderburn. In fact, fewer than 25 dogs and cats are confirmed to be infected with coronavirus in the US, according to the USDA.“However, people should be aware that dogs and cats, just like objects in the house, could in theory carry droplets from coughing on the surface of their bodies,” he says. “For this reason, if you are ill, you should stop spending time close to your animals in case you cough on them. And if your region still has a ‘lockdown’ policy, you should treat your animals as part of your own household ‘bubble’, avoiding contact with other households. This means keeping cats indoors if possible, and keeping dogs on leashes while on walks, if they are otherwise likely to engage with people and other dogs.”