Understandably, there is a lot of concern about how COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) specifically pertains to our pets. It is important to note that the term “coronavirus” refers to a large family of viruses and that the current outbreak refers to a specific strain identified as COVID-19. Coronaviruses are responsible for a range of illnesses from the common cold to more severe respiratory infections.
There has been a lot of focus in the media on the dog that tested a “weak positive” in Hong Kong after his owner was quarantined for infection with COVID-19. This dog has shown no symptoms of truly being infected with the virus. The current test does not differentiate between active infection, live virus or inactivated virus particles. The dog continues to be quarantined to monitor for signs of clinical disease (symptoms).
Although there is no evidence so far that pets can be infected, pets can still have virus particles on them (i.e. fur, nose) in the same way that anything in contact with an infected person could. The current recommendation is for persons infected with COVID-19 to limit close contact with their pet as you would with another human (i.e. avoid snuggling, being licked or kissed, sharing food). Here are some good hygienic tips:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Avoid close contact with sick people.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw it away.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Sources (and for more information): https://vetmed.illinois.edu/pet_column/coronavirus-pets/