The World Small Animal Veterinary Association is reassuring pet owners that they cannot contract Covid-19 from dogs.
“The current evidence still strongly indicates that Covid-19 cannot be contracted from pets,” says WSAVA president, Dr Shane Ryan, an Australian vet based in Singapore.
WSAVA that represents more than 200,000 vets worldwide through its 113 member associations wanted to allay public concern following the death of a 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong.
The dog had been quarantined after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, but was released two weeks later after testing negative for the virus.
It showed no clinical signs of Covid-19 but had cardiac and renal issues and is believed to have died from these and old age together with the stress of being quarantined away from familiar surroundings.
Another dog in Hong Kong, a German Shepherd also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and was quarantined after its owner was confirmed with Covid-19. Although the dog tested positive, it had no clinical signs of disease.
A dog from the same residence tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 and even though it has no relevant clinical signs it has been quarantined as well.
The dogs will be tested for the remainder of the quarantine period.
“While there is still much we don't know about Covid-19, we do know that the Pomeranian dog did not die from the virus, and the second dog is also showing no signs, either of the disease or being able to transmit it to other pets and people,” said Dr Ryan.
INDEXX Laboratories, an international provider of veterinary diagnostics and software has evaluated thousands of canine and feline samples during a validation of a new veterinary test system for SARS-CoV-2 and has seen no positive results.
Dr Ryan said they are very concerned at reports of many animals being abandoned, killed or taken into shelters because their owners feared they might carry the virus when this was not supported by evidence.
“In addition to the suffering this causes to the animals concerned, their owners will also cease to benefit from all the positive aspects of owning a pet which is even more important as so many of us are now having to limit contact with other people.”
The WSAVA is urging pet owners not to panic and, instead, to continue to care for their companion animals and to enjoy their company.
The association is urging pet owners to keep their animals with them if they are self-quarantined and to maintain good hygiene practices, including washing hands when interacting with their pets.
They should arrange care for animals if they are hospitalised, and contact their vet immediately if they have questions or concerns.
WSAVA's core activities include the development of global guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, nutrition and vaccination and the provision of continuing education.