By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – As if there weren’t enough unknowns about coronavirus, or COVID-19, here’s another question to ponder: can pets catch and spread the virus? The next question then becomes: does it matter?

The questions come up because of a new case of a dog testing positive to COVID-19 in Hong Kong. The dog is owned by a person who was clinically ill with coronavirus.

The dog had no symptoms, but health officials tested the dog and initial results showed a “weak positive” but further testing this week showed definite infection.

It is believed to be the first case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus. Which then makes you wonder if animals could then spread it back to humans.

At this point, experts don’t think so, but are hedging their bets, saying they just aren’t positive one way or the other. Could it be one positive case, or one of thousands of unknown cases? Their answer once again is ???????????

Veterinary experts seem less concerned about dogs than they are about cats. The reason: SARS and similar virus seem to have/had an affinity to the genetics of cats, more so than dogs or other animals.

(credit: CBS)

Other strains of coronavirus have a reputation of moving easily between species, and it thought the new coronavirus may have first originated in bats, then spread to humans.

What’s the advice from health officials? There’s no reason to change how you interact with your pets or put little homemade masks on them, etc.

On the other hand, health officials in other parts of the world are advising those who have been infected with COVID-19 to quarantine pets as well.

For the rest of us, the advice remains pretty simple. Practice good hygiene, if you’re ill with any infection stay home and limit your contact with pets, including snuggling, licking, kissing and sharing food.

As one health official said, “treat your pet as you would your kids.”

This is probably not a big thing, yet once again, add one more thing to the list of unknowns about coronavirus.

Dr. Dave Hnida


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