A dog from the Niagara region in Ontario has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the agriculture, food and rural affairs ministry.
In a Friday (Oct. 23) advisory, the animal and welfare branch in the office of the chief veterinarian said they received notice of a dog infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“The animal was tested as part of a research study, following diagnosis of COVID-19 in several people in the same household. This dog did not have any clinical signs of disease,” the ministry stated in its release.
Officials said that the risk of infection and illness in most domestic animals is low, but that current evidence suggests that mink, ferrets, cats and rarely dogs can get the virus. What this means for the animals is still uncertain.
The World Organization for Animal Health said that there is “no evidence that animal are playing a role in the spread of this predominantly human disease.” There have not been any confirmed cases of a pet transmitting the virus to another animal or to a human under regular conditions, as this infection took place as part of a study.
“Many of the naturally infected animals that have been reported in other countries did not show observable signs of illness,” the ministry said. “Clinical illness has been reported in mink and experimentally infected cats and is suspected in some naturally exposed cats.”
Overall, coronaviruses – which include COVID-19, SARS and some strains of the common cold – can cause respiratory or gastrointestinal issues in animals.
The ministry recommends that people who have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating should limit contact with their pets, and make sure the pets are not in contact with other animals or people. Outside of studies, animals are not being tested for COVID-19 at this time.
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