1st dog tests positive for COVID-19 in Canada

Story by CBC Kids News • 2020-10-26 13:30
UPDATE: On Oct. 27, the dog was identified as a four-year-old poodle-bichon mix named Maci.

No evidence that animals are spreading the disease

A dog in Ontario’s Niagara region is the first to test positive for COVID-19 in Canada, according to the researcher who discovered the case.

The Ontario government confirmed the positive test in a news release on Oct. 23.

Despite that news, the message from the chief of infection control at the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College is clear.

“Don’t be afraid of animals,” said Scott Weese.

While it’s possible that a dog could help spread COVID-19, he said, the risk remains low.

The other good news? Dogs with COVID-19 don’t seem to get very sick, Weese said. In this case, the infected dog wasn’t experiencing any symptoms.

How did the dog get sick?

In Weese’s blog post from Oct. 23, the scientist said the dog was most likely infected by its owners.

In fact, human-to-pet transmission is probably not uncommon, he said.

In this case, four of the six people living in the house had already tested postive for COVID-19.

Only one of the two dogs in the house tested positive, although Weese said it’s possible the second dog had been infected and then recovered.

University of Guelph Prof. Scott Weese said if anybody in your family is self-isolating because they tested positive for COVID-19, your dog should, too. (Image credit: ovc.uoguelph.ca)

Take precautions: No licking!

It’s unclear whether dogs shed enough of the coronavirus to actually be infectious, Weese said. Still, it’s a good idea to play it safe.

“If you’re infected with COVID-19, limit your contact with anything with a pulse (not just people),” Weese wrote in his blog. That means no snuggling with your pets.

And if you and your family members test positive for COVID-19 and go into self-isolation, your dog should isolate as well, Weese said.

“If you wouldn’t lick your neighbour through the fence, don’t let your dog do the same to the neighbour’s dog,” he said.

While it’s smart to take these precautions, Weese said, there’s no need to get your dog tested.

Can other animals get sick?

Of approximately 40 pets tested by Weese’s team, only one dog has tested positive for COVID-19.

One cat in the study also showed signs that it had already been infected.

Weese said other animals, including monkeys and minks, are more likely to catch the coronavirus.

Still, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, there is no evidence to suggest that animals play a role in spreading COVID-19.

And there have been no confirmed cases of transmission from a pet to a human or another animal.

With files from The Canadian Press
TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Graphic design by Philip Street

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