These FAQs were last updated on March 12, 2020.
Can dogs get the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?
At this time, experts believe it is very unlikely. The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”
If experts believe it is unlikely for a dog to get COVID-19, how did a dog test “positive” in Hong Kong?
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.
March 12, 2020 update: The dog was placed under quarantine after its owner was hospitalized with COVID-19 infection on February 26. Subsequent tests revealed weak positive results for the nasal and oral samples taken on February 28 and for the nasal samples on March 2 and March 5. The weak positive result 5 and 8 days after the dog was removed from the home where the person was sick suggests the dog has a low-level infection, which was likely caused by a case of human-to-animal transmission.
The Hong Kong Health Authorities and the World Organization for Animal Health continue to investigate. All pet mammals from households with confirmed human cases of COVID-19 will be placed under quarantine and veterinary surveillance for 14 days in Hong Kong. There is still no indication that pets can shed the virus or get sick from the virus at this time.
Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for dogs and cats?
There is no vaccine for COVID-19 for people or animals at this time.
Veterinarians are familiar with other coronaviruses. Similar but different coronavirus species cause several common diseases in domestic animals. Many dogs, for example, are vaccinated for another species of coronavirus (Canine Coronavirus) as puppies. However, this vaccine does not cross protect for COVID-19.