A pet dog that caught Covid-19 from its owners has become the first official case of its kind in the UK.
The animal was in a veterinary surgery for unrelated reasons when its owners tested positive and it too then developed symptoms of Sars-Cov-2 infection.
Health officials have not disclosed any information about the dog’s location or identity but say the animal is now home and recovering well.
Scientific studies and investigations have previously identified several cases of dogs being infected with Covid in Britain, but this is the first time an official test returned a positive result.
The positive test was processed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s main lab at its national headquarters in Weybridge, Surrey.
Christine Middlemiss, the UK Chief Veterinary Officer, said: “It is very rare for dogs to be infected and they will usually only show mild clinical signs and recover within a few days.
“There is no clear evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”
Dr Katherine Russell, a consultant medical epidemiologist at UKHSA, added that the virus was well-adapted to humans and therefore the vast majority of transmission occurred between people, but that it was possible for a Covid-positive human to also infect animals.
“In line with general public health guidance, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals,” she said.
The US Department for Agriculture has registered 90 instances of dogs being infected.
Bill Lambert, of the Kennel Club, said: “We’re aware of a very small number of reports of dogs testing positive for Covid-19 following close contact with infected humans.
“It seems that most do not show any symptoms, but it is possible that some infected pets may develop mild effects. Severe effects are extremely rare.
“If your dog is unwell, for any reason, then we advise owners to contact their vet to find out what is causing the illness, as usual.
“We’d also advise any pet owners to maintain extra hygiene precautions in line with public health guidance, including regularly washing hands with soap and water after touching dogs or preparing their food, and if you have Covid-19 or the virus symptoms, minimise contact with your dog where possible.
“Further advice, information and practical resources for dog owners during the Covid-19 pandemic is available via The Kennel Club’s online hub: thekennelclub.org.uk/coronavirus.”