As SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, sweeps the globe, one thing is for certain—our lives have been turned upside down. But, as we continue to learn about the virus each day, it is clear there is still a lot we don’t know, including how pets and other animals fit into the picture. Since our initial COVID-19 blog post, new information regarding animal testing, transmission, and recommendations have come to light. We have compiled the following updates, to help you better understand your pet’s role, and to stay informed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

Known COVID-19 cases in animals

  • New York — Two domestic cats living in New York state tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after exhibiting mild respiratory symptoms. The cats were from separate households, and while one cat lived with a caretaker who also tested positive for the virus, the other cat had no known contact with an obviously ill person. 
  • North Carolina — In late April, a pet pug in North Carolina tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, after showing abnormal respiratory signs and inappetence. This dog lived with people who also tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 
  • Bronx Zoo — In April, several tigers and lions at the Bronx zoo developed mild respiratory signs, including a dry cough and wheezing. The cats subsequently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and the source of the infection was traced to an infected zookeeper. 
  • Belgium — In late March, a domestic cat in Belgium apparently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after falling ill with respiratory and gastrointestinal signs. The cat reportedly became sick after the owner, who also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, returned from Italy. Due to possible discrepancies in the testing samples and the cat’s diagnostic work-up, the results of this case may not be reliable. 
  • Hong Kong — In March, two different cases of SARS-CoV-2-positive dogs emerged in Hong Kong, China. Neither pet reportedly exhibited any COVID-19-related illness signs, but both pets lived with owners who were infected with the virus. One geriatric dog later died, but this was likely due to other health complications. 

What pet owners need to know

  1. In all known cases of SARS-CoV-2 positive animals, no deaths have been reported, and all affected animals are expected to make a full recovery. Most infected pets exhibit mild respiratory signs, or no signs at all.
  2. While more reports are emerging of pets testing positive for the novel coronavirus, animals apparently continue to play a negligible role in virus transmission. 
  3. The overall risk of pets contracting and becoming ill with COVID-19 is still extremely low. At this time, we do not recommend routine testing for normal, healthy animals. 
  4. Because we don’t fully understand the role of animals in SARS-CoV-2 transmission, we recommend that owners and their pets practice social distancing out of an abundance of caution. This means that pets should not be allowed off-leash in public areas, and they should maintain a six-foot distance from people and pets who live outside their homes. Cats should be kept indoors whenever possible. Continue to practice good hygiene when interacting with your pet, including frequent hand washing, and careful clean-up of pet waste.
  5. While some animals obviously can contract the virus, there is no evidence that animals can transmit the virus to people. However, if you and your pet are both ill with respiratory symptoms, it is imperative that you contact us at Urgent Pet Care, and your primary care physician, for further guidance. 
  6. We are learning more every day regarding pets, animals, and COVID-19. For the most up-to-date information and recommendations, consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)

We know this is a difficult and uncertain time, and we hope you take comfort in knowing that Urgent Pet Care Omaha is here for your pet care needs. Consult our COVID-19 protocol before bringing your pet to the clinic and, as always, contact us with any questions or concerns.