Can pets get coronavirus? Experts say it’s not likely

Dog in China tested “weak positive”


ORLANDO, Fla. – Amid concerns over the coronavirus, health experts are working to figure out exactly how the virus spreads and who it’s most likely to affect.

Pets make up a large population in the United States, so researchers are now trying to determine if they, too, are at risk.

The answer: more research needs to be done, but the initial consensus is a resounding “no.”

On Feb. 28, the Hong Kong government released a statement saying an oral and nasal sample from a dog tested “weakly positive” for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The statement continued that the dog was being quarantined although it did not have any relevant symptoms, and that it was possible the virus found its way into the dog’s mouth and nose through “environmental contamination” because it lives with someone who is infected.

According to CNN, the dog testing “weakly positive” has acted as a sort of false alarm, saying that just because the dog tested positive for the virus does not mean that it was infected.

Scientists know the coronavirus can live on surfaces, but they’re not quite sure for how long. In a similar vein, this could mean that the virus may be present on the surface of a pet, even if it has not actually become internally infected with the disease.

The World Health Organization said there is no current evidence that companion animals like dogs or cats can be infected with the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus.

World Health Organization
World Health Organization (World Health Organization)

Coronavirus comes in different strains, however, much like the flu or herpes virus; SARS is another type of coronavirus.

According to CNN, dogs and cats do get coronaviruses, but they are not at all the same as the virus associated with this current outbreak, said Jane Gray, Hong Kong SPCA’s chief veterinary surgeon. Those strains are a completely different type, don’t cause respiratory problems and many pose no risk to humans.

If your pet begins exhibiting symptoms of an illness like vomiting, diarrhea, or repeated coughing or sneezing you should always consult with a veterinarian.

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