COVID-19 is just one kind of coronavirus. Before COVID-19, most veterinarians thought of coronavirus in dogs as the canine coronavirus or CCoV. This particular variation causes short-lived diarrhea that can be mild in adults but moderate to severe in puppies, and it can mimic another severe gastrointestinal illness known as parvovirus. CCoV is highly contagious and is spread through contact with fecal matter.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, experts were not sure that dogs could contract COVID-19, but they cautioned that people who are sick with any respiratory signs should maintain distance from other people and from animals. After all, one viral mutation caused COVID-19 to be able to jump from an animal to a person, so does this mean that the opposite is possible?
As of the publication of this article, there is no evidence to suggest that dogs play a major role in the spread of COVID-19. However, there have been a few cases where dogs have tested positive for it, and they usually come from homes where their owners or family members were infected.
One example is a Pug named Winston from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His owners were infected with COVID-19, then one day, Winston had mild clinical signs like sneezing, lethargy, and skipping a meal. After a few days, he recovered, and he is considered the first dog to test positive for COVID-19. None of the other pets in the household were affected.
Cases of dogs testing positive for COVID-19 are still very rare, but if you are infected, you should avoid contact with family members, including your canine companions! If you suspect that your dog has a respiratory illness, contact your veterinarian right away.
Be sure to let your vet’s office know if you have been infected or if your dog has come into contact with someone who was infected. Your vet might contact the State Veterinarian for further advice on how to test and treat your pup.