DETROIT – For the first time, a dog in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), and experts now believe the virus can spread from people to pets.
While officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Protection said the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low, it it does appear to be possible in some circumstances.
Experts have seen COVID-19 spread to cats, but they said we also need to watch out for dogs. A pug from North Carolina has tested positive for the virus, and the family in question happened to be taking part in a research study, officials said.
“This has been very stressful, and we’re grateful we made it through,” Heather McLean said.
McLean and her family of four are fresh out of quarantine. In March, everyone except her daughter tested positive for COVID-19.
“We’ve all recovered,” McLean said. “We’ve all felt great for the last two weeks. Everything seems very back to normal.”
On April 1, the family joined a new study conducted by Duke University.
“They all came out to our house and did blood samples,” McLean said. “For the humans, they swabbed our noses as well as our mouths, and then for the animals they did oral swabs for both dogs and the cat.”
Winston, the family’s pug, tested positive.
“His symptoms were mild,” McLean said. “Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way, so it almost seems like he was very gaggy, and there was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs, you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual.”
Winston was sick for a few days, they said.
“Hopefully we’ll learn more though the research study, and I think because there’s not a lot of studies and sample pets, we just don’t know yet,” McLean said.
The McLean parents are both physicians. They believe it’s possible they were exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Winston sleeps with them and likes to lick their plates, so they believe he caught the virus from them.
Officials with the CDC said people should still treat pets as you would other human family members, which means they shouldn’t be interacting with anyone outside your home. You might have to avoid walking dogs in places where that’s difficult to manage.
If anyone is sick in your home, pets should b isolated from them, if possible.