A Pomeranian in Hong Kong tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 last week, household pets have fast became part of the coronavirus discussion. The case raised the unnerving likelihood that pets could become part of the transmission chain for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which could potentially harm both them and us. But many questions remain about this possibility and the best response.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus from what is known spreads from humans to humans. There is no evidence as of yet to support human to animal spread at the present. Samples from the Hong Kong dog had a marginal number of virus particles present. In an animal with no clinical signs of disease, it’s not clear what this may mean. It is a single case, and a lot more research into the potential of the human SARS-CoV-19 virus to infect animals needs to be done before we can have a definitive answer.
That said, cats and dogs are mammals just like us. They have some of the same receptors on their cells that we do. So in theory the virus could possibly attach to these receptors. But would it enter their cells and replicate? Not likely.
Still, people infected with SARS-CoV-19 should limit contact with their pets. Clean your hands, and don’t let them lick you on the face. If the virus is in your secretions, and there’s any potential of transmission, this is a way it could be transmitted.