American Humane has set out to dispel any false theories regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) through pets. At this time, according to officials, there is no evidence that companion animals can contract and/or spread coronavirus.
Many misguided fears grew out of a recent report that a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19, officials said. While the virus is staying in the respiratory system of the dog, it is not infected. This is a case of human-to-animal transmission and means that dogs can carry low levels of the virus but don’t become sick, officials added. Despite allegations to the contrary, cats and dogs are no more likely to spread the coronavirus than a cell phone or keys, officials noted. The disease can reside on an animal’s skin like it can on any inanimate object, officials added. Researchers are still looking into how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces and objects.
"Around the globe, we are seeing confusion and rash actions taken in response to the coronavirus," said Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., president and CEO of American Humane. "Right now, we need people to treat their pets with kindness and compassion. They are not a threat to you or your family."
These "rash actions" refer to families in China abandoning pets and even euthanizing them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To help calm pet owners, American Humane has provided the following tips:
- Stock up on necessities in case you need to stay home for 2-3 weeks, including pet food and medications
- Wash your hands after playing with your dog or cat
- Don’t abandon your companion animals
- Stay up to date on the latest advisories and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO)
"Animals should not lose their lives because their owners are uniformed or misinformed," officials said.