It is possible that pets with other symptoms may not have been seen by these doctors, whose focus was cardiology, Ferasin said.
The study was published Nov. 4 in the journal Veterinary Record. Subsequent reports in several European countries have also found domestic pets testing positive for the virus, Ferasin said.
From the research, it appears that the virus passed from the humans to the pets. There is no evidence that the virus passed from pets to humans, he noted.
“It looks like the virus can only be passed from humans to pets and that’s probably a very important message, to avoid the sort of a panic reaction in response to this publication,” Ferasin said. “We don’t want people to think that they may catch COVID from animals. It’s probably more likely the other way around.”
Dr. Jose Arce, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, reiterated the message that the cases seem to be spreading from humans to animals.
“While COVID is primarily a human disease, there are documented cases of COVID infections in animals,” Arce said, noting that this includes wildlife in zoos, domestic pets, and the animals at mink farms.
In most cases, the animals have very mild disease, Arce said. Like with humans, those who are immunocompromised might develop more severe symptoms.
Pet owners can protect their furry friends with the same kinds of precautions that protect other humans around them including washing hands thoroughly, especially before touching the pet, and wearing a mask.
Masks should not be put on pets because they’re not made to be safe for them, Arce said.
If possible, someone who has COVID-19 should try to avoid contact with their pet if there is another person who can care for the animal, Arce said.
But, “if you’re positive and you want to board your dog in the hospital, don’t just show up in the door. Call ahead of time, so we can take the necessary precautions,” Arce added.
A pet that travels back and forth between a part of the house where someone quarantining with COVID-19 is living and another part where there are people who are not ill could bring the virus between the two groups on its coat, so Arce also cautioned against having pets travel between ill and healthy family members.