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Pet owners should not panic over the dog that died after COVID-19 infection


How do dogs respond to COVID-19?

Getty / Darian Traynor

He coronavirus The pandemic is often spoken of in terms of waves. First waves, second waves. The information surrounding the pandemic works similarly, especially when scientists learn more about how the disease spreads and how it infects.

Several pets tested positive for COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic. In March, a 17-year-old dog in Hong Kong became infected. He later died, but COVID-19 was not thought to be the leading cause. Bronx zoo tigers were also found to be infected, probably by a human manager who was also positive for the disease. The animals were expected to fully recover.

Pet owners have long been concerned that their pets may catch or spread COVID-19. After posting a story about COVID-19 in pets in May, I received requests for information and help. “Can my dogs get coronavirus? And if they do what do I do? How do I know and can I kill them !!?” asked a reader by email. Another asked whether care should be taken to transfer COVID-19 between households and the cats they care for. From the accumulated scientific evidence on pet-related COVID-19, it seemed that many had nothing to worry about; a very small number of pets had been infected.

But a recent story about the death of a dog in the United States has caused significant confusion.

National Geographic published a poignant story about Buddy, a seven-year-old German shepherd who died recently, months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This is a well-studied, well-written, and timely work that takes a second look at how pets can affect COVID-19.

According to the report, Buddy fell ill with COVID-19 in mid-April. He tested positive for the disease in June, the first dog in the United States to be tested positive. On July 11 he died. However, medical records showed that Buddy “probably had lymphoma, a type of cancer.” Lymphoma is a common cancer in dogs that affects the lymph nodes. However, this important point was not conveyed in the title of the story, which caused a number of similar headlines to appear online.


The COVID-19 momentum was trending on Thursday.


A day after the story was published in National Geographic, Twitter posted a moment titled “The first U.S. dog to show positivity for COVID-19 has died.”

There is nothing inherently false about these titles. They are factual: Friend I made it positive test for COVID-19. But his cause of death has not been definitively linked to the disease. Nor did he test positive for the disease at the time of his death.

“There are many things that pose a greater risk to dogs and cats than COVID-19,” says Glenn Browning, a veterinary microbiologist at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

But, as is often the case in the media storm surrounding the coronavirus, the nuance is lost in the headlines, causing unnecessary fear and panic. Friend, according to the blood work done after his death, he “certainly” had lymphoma.

“It looks like it was a very committed dog in the first place,” Browning nuances.

But, as Nat Geo’s piece correctly points out, there is no information on how COVID-19 affects dogs and cats. This is the basis of the story: we need more information on how COVID-19 can affect cats and dogs, and we need to report more transparently about the symptoms and potential treatments for infected animals.

But it didn’t sell like that, and in a pandemic where continuous misinformation occurs on social media with little scrutiny, this is a problem because other news organizations remain the same, which added to the initial confusion.

As far as scientists know, pets do not appear to play a major role in COVID-19 transmission. Owners of COVID-19 may be able to infect their pets, but no transfer of pets to humans has been reported.

“There is absolutely no evidence that pets play any role in the epidemiology of this disease,” said Trevor Drew, director of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory. he told CNET in May. Browning agrees.

“Sure, it can occasionally cause illness in dogs,” he says. “What worries me is that people are starting to treat dogs as a cause for concern about human infection and that’s complete nonsense.”

The CDC’s official advice is to “limit your pet’s interaction with people outside your home.” He also suggests restricting contact with pets and pets if you are sick. If your pet becomes ill, call your veterinarian and let them know that you have been sick with COVID-19.

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