Preliminary scientific research from Canada suggest that a 'substantial proportion of pets in households of persons with COVID-19 become infected,' said paper author and veterinary pathologist Dorothee Bienzle of the University of Guelph, Canada.
In the study, people who owned a cat or dog and had been given a diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 were invited to have their pet swabbed.
If humans were outside the two-week window of suspected infectiousness, antibody testing was offered which looked for recent or past infection, using so-called IgM and IgG antibodies, respectively. Out of the 17 cats and 18 dogs, all cats were tested and none except one proved infectious. However, some showed signs of having been infected.
'All cats with an indeterminate PCR or positive antibody results were reported to have had respiratory and/or other illness by their owners around the time of the owner's COVID-19 infection,' said Professor Bienzle. '20 percent of dogs had ... antibody results — indicating past infection — and one of these was reported to have had an episode of respiratory disease.
Veterinary experts from Canada have warned those suspected to have contracted the novel coronavirus to stay away from their pets.
'Eligible participant number was limited by relatively low human transmission rates in the study area,' Professor Bienzle said.
However, she noted, 'these preliminary results suggest that a substantial proportion of pets in households of persons with COVID-19 end up developing antibodies.
Professor Bienzle and her colleagues have encouraged people with coronavirus to stay away from both other people and their pets.
According to the CDC: Dogs and Cats CAN contract COVID-19 from their owners:
"We know that cats, dogs, and a few other types of animals can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but we don’t yet know all of the animals that can get infected.
- A small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States. Most of these pets became sick after contact with people with COVID-19.
- Several lions and tigers external icon at a New York zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after showing signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was infected with SARS-CoV-2. All of these large cats have fully recovered.
- SARS-CoV-2 has been reported in mink (which are closely related to ferrets) on multiple farms in the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, and the United States external icon.
- SARS-CoV-2 infection in farmed mink has been characterized by respiratory disease and an increased mortality rate.
- Because some workers on these farms had symptoms of COVID-19, it is likely that infected farm workers were the source of the mink infections.
- Currently, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people. However, reports from infected mink farms in the Netherlands suggest that in these environments there is the possibility for spread of SARS-CoV-2 from mink to humans.
- Additionally, some farm cats and dogs on mink farms in Europe also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, suggesting they had been exposed to the virus.
CDC, USDA, and state public health and animal health officials are working in some states to conduct active surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in pets, including cats, dogs, and other small mammals, that had contact with a person with COVID-19.
These animals are being tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection and also tested to see whether the pet develops antibodies to this virus.
This work is being done to help us better understand how common SARS-CoV-2 infection might be in pets as well as the possible role of pets in the spread of this virus.
There have been reports of animals being infected with the virus worldwide."