Ever since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, there were concerns about what role pets can play in transmitting the disease. Well, we can all breathe a collective sigh of release: dogs can’t get sick from the disease, and they can’t pass it on, even if they do test positive.
Just wash your hands and don’t kiss your dog on the nose.
“Pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets,” said Hong Kong’s department of agriculture.
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has been keeping a close eye on how COVID-19 can affect dogs after the pet dog of a COVID-19 patient tested positive for the disease.
The dog showed no symptoms of the disease and according to an unidentified spokesman for the department “there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick.”
The announcement has been confirmed by researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of the City University of Hong Kong and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which have unanimously agreed that the dog has a low level of infection and it is “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission” — but there seems to be no risk of the dog re-transmitting the virus back to humans.
This announcement is particularly important as the coronavirus outbreak in China has led to a surge in abandoned or even killed pets. In Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, there have been reports of authorities euthanizing pets found in patients’ houses. There is absolutely no reason to do this, experts say. It’s simply cruel and unnecessary. Just make sure to practice basic hygiene around your pets, and you’re good to go.
“It only worries me in the sense that people panic and act irrationally, in the same way that people rushed out and stocked up on toilet paper,” says Sally Andersen, the founder of Hong Kong Dog Rescue.
However, the situation is still being closely monitored.
“People who are sick should restrict contacting animals. If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible,” the department added.
After initial concerns that Hong Kong would become a major coronavirus cluster, the outbreak seems to have plateaued in Hong Kong. There are only 104 confirmed cases, and while the problem is far from over, it is remarkable that there hasn’t been a surge in infections.
Furthermore, Hong Kong’s proactive measures seem to have produced a sharp decline in the overall number of flu cases. The bottom line: wash your hands, love your dogs, but just don’t kiss them.