A German shepherd has become the first known case of a US dog being infected with the novel coronavirus, federal health officials announced Tuesday.
“One of the dog’s owners tested positive for COVID-19, and another showed symptoms consistent with the virus, prior to the dog,” the Department of Agriculture said in a statement. “The dog is expected to make a full recovery.”
A second dog in the German shepherd’s household showed no signs of illness but did have antibodies to the virus. (The agency did not provide a photo of the German shepherd.) The news follows a negative result of testing reported by the New York Times, on Winston, a North Carolina pug initially suspected of infection with the novel coronavirus last week.
Testing the dogs in a veterinary lab did not limit people’s access to tests, according to the USDA. There is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus, the agency added.
“Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low,” the USDA said.
Dogs have been reported to be infected with coronavirus a few times in the pandemic, notably two in Hong Kong. Studies have shown that cats and ferrets are easily infected by the novel coronavirus, while dogs are less susceptible.
The German shepherd is expected to recover from the illness, but health officials urge pet owners to be cautious about infecting their pets. The dog will join a lion, a tiger, and two cats on the USDA’s list of animals testing positive with COVID-19 in the US.