A German Shepherd Tested Positive for Coronavirus

27 April, 2020
First a Pomeranian and now a German Shepherd. What's happening with these dogs that have tested positive for Coronavirus? Should pet owners be worried?

A German Shepherd in Hong Kong raises red flags

In order to understand what’s happened a little better, we’ll have a look at the information provided by the South China Morning Post:

  • The German Shepherd is two and a half years old and belongs to a 30 year old woman. The owner is a resident of the Pok Fu Lam area and was recently infected with the coronavirus.
  • Unrest quickly spread because, after performing tests, experts discovered remains of the virus on the animal’s snout.
  • However, the animal has not displayed any symptoms of the virus. 

A veterinarian examining a German Shepherd.

  • According to Malik Peiris, a virologist specialized in public health and professor at the University of Hong Kong, it’s likely that the German Shepherd caught the disease from its owner or another human being. Peiris states the same in regard to a Pomeranian that also tested positive.
  • At the same time, Peiris indicated that the fact that an animal tested positive for coronavirus doesn’t mean it will develop the COVID-19 disease or will show symptoms.
  • And what’s happened with these animals since they tested positive for coronavirus? They are both in quarantine, where they remain under observation.

Can pets contract the virus?

As a result of the fear and rumors that surround this sort of news, animal abandonment is growing drastically. Therefore, authorities insist on the importance of checking trustworthy and official news sources. What’s more, if you have any doubts, check with a trusted veterinarian.

What’s more, it’s important to appeal to common sense and responsibility. Both are key in order to avoid taking drastic measures and putting animals in danger–especially at a time like this.

Experts from the Spanish Veterinarian Collegiate Organization (OCV) clarifies that, to date, there’s no scientific data that shows that pets can suffer from or spread COVID-19.

It’s important to point out that there are many illnesses that are typical in animals and, by name, are linked to coronavirus. However, they aren’t the same as the pandemic that’s currently affecting humanity.

An example of similar illnesses in pets is feline coronaviruswhich exclusively affects cats.

At the same time, dogs can suffer from canine coronavirus. Just like feline coronavirus, this illness only affects dogs.

So, can dogs infected by COVID-19 spread the illness to human beings? No, we have no reason to believe that cats and dogs can spread COVID-19 to humans. There are no known cases of this in the world, and we need to consider the limitless propagation of this virus.

The excellent work of veterinarians and disseminators

A dachshund at the vet.

Veterinarians haven’t missed a beat in doing their bit during this state of emergency. Many have loaned their services in order to guarantee the production chain, nutritional safety, and well-being of all animals, just as the president of the OCV indicated.

At the same time, we can thank scientific disseminators and all those professionals in the area of biology (and other areas of science). They’ve contributed greatly to informing the public responsibly in order to avoid the abandonment of pets. They’ve also contributed to promoting good practice when it comes to caring for and cleaning pets after they go for a walk.

The basic message coming from all of these professionals is the following: common sense and calm. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to rumors and fall prey to panic. Remember that you can always talk to a trusted veterinarian over the phone if you have any concerns.

  • Gabriela Puente. Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias. 2018. Infección por coronavirus felino. Extraído de: https://www.ridaa.unicen.edu.ar/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/1699/Puente%2C%20Gabriela.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
  • Mª del Mar Martín Calvo. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Coronavirus canino. Extraído de: https://eprints.ucm.es/3206/1/T18331.pdf