A dog in the Niagara region of Ontario has tested positive for COVID-19, but researchers believe most pet owners shouldn’t be concerned.
Tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 in dogs are rare, as they are usually asymptomatic and they recover from the disease fairly quickly.
Scott Weese, head of infection control at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, was involved in the study which found the positive case in the Niagara region.
He says of around 40 animals tested, only the dog tested positive.
One cat in the study had antibodies to match the virus, suggesting he had had it before.
Mr Weese said any household where a person has COVID-19 should include their pets in quarantine as a precaution.
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“Your dog is less likely to be infected than people in your household, but it is possible and we don’t want to create the risk that your dog could transmit it,” Weese argued Monday morning.
He also noted that owners shouldn’t worry too much about their pets. “It’s a human virus,” Weese said. “He loves people and there are animal species that can be affected, but that’s a backlash. “
“It’s probably not that unusual to have infections from humans to dogs, but dogs rarely, if ever, get sick. “
Weese notes that other animals, like non-human primates and mink, are much more susceptible to the virus.
The animal examinations for the study were logistically difficult. The household must first find out that a person has COVID-19, then contact researchers to have their pets checked. Then the test should be done in the relatively short window where the animal may be sick.
“We are looking at a few different aspects of [virus], like the way it moves and whether it moves between people and animals, ”said Weese. Testing for antibodies – after the virus has passed – is usually the way to confirm that an animal has the virus. coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, he said.
“It seems that it’s probably not that rare for people to pass it on to their pets and the animals are not affected by it,” he said.