The New Coronavirus and Companion Animals

COVID-19 General Information:

Coronaviruses belong to the family Coronaviridae. Alpha- and beta-coronaviruses usually infect mammals, while gamma and delta coronaviruses usually infect birds and fish. Canine coronavirus, which can cause mild diarrhea and feline coronavirus, which can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), are both alpha-coronaviruses. These coronaviruses are not associated with the current coronavirus outbreak. Until the appearance of SARS-Cov-2, which belongs to the beta-coronaviruses, there were only six known coronaviruses capable of infecting humans and causing respiratory disease, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus SARS-CoV (identified in 2002/2003) and

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus MERS-CoV (identified in 2012). SARS-Cov-2 is genetically more related to SARS-CoV than MERS-CoV, but both are beta-coronaviruses with their origins in bats. While it is not known whether COVID-19 will behave the same way as SARS and MERS, the information from both of these earlier coronaviruses can inform recommendations concerning COVID-19.

In the last few weeks, rapid progress had been made in the identification of viral etiology, isolation of infectious virus and the development of diagnostic tools. However, there are still many important questions that remain to be answered.


The most up-to-date information and advice on human infection can be found on the following

The most up-to-date information related to animal health can be found on the following website:



In response to this outbreak, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association [WSAVA] Scientific and One Health Committees have prepared the following list of frequently asked questions in collaboration with One Health interested individuals around the globe. We are aware of issues related to pet abandonment in China and hope that this information will be of use to veterinarians around the world in dealing with the concerns of their clients.

  • Can COVID-19 infect pets?

Currently there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected with or spread COVID-19.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.


  • Should I avoid contact with pets or other animals if I am sick with COVID-19?

The CDC recommends the following: “You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while
you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been
reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people
sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If
you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or
licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash
your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.” Please check for new
updates on CDC’s website.


  • If my pet has been in contact with someone who is sick from COVID-19, can it spread the disease
    to other people?

While we do not yet know for sure, there is no evidence that companion animals can be infected
with or spread SARS-Cov-2. We also do not know if they could get sick from this new coronavirus.
Additionally, there is currently no evidence that companion animals could be a source of infection to
people. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.


  • What should I do if my pet develops an unexplained illness and was around a person with
    documented COVID-19 infection?

We don’t yet know if companion animals can get infected by SARS-Cov-2 or sick with COVID-19. If
your pet develops an unexplained illness and has been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19,
talk to the public health official working with the person infected with COVID-19. If your area has a
public health veterinarian, the public health official will consult with them or another appropriate
official. If the state public health veterinarian, or other public health official, advises you to take your
pet to a veterinary clinic, call your veterinary clinic before you go to let them know that you are
bringing a sick pet that has been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19. This will allow the
clinic time to prepare an isolation area. Do not take the animal to a veterinary clinic unless you are
instructed to do so by a public health official.


  • What are the concerns regarding pets that have been in contact with people infected with this

While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to person. Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses. Importantly, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets such as dogs and cats, can become infected with COVID-19.

Although there is no evidence that pets play a role in the epidemiology of COVID-19, strict hand hygiene shouldbe maintained by the entire clinicalteamthroughout the veterinary interaction,especially if dealing with an animal that has been in contact with an infected person.


  • What should be done with pets in areas where the virus is active?

Currently there is no evidence that pets can be infected with this new coronavirus. Although there
have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, until we know more,
pet owners should avoid contact with animals they are unfamiliar with and always wash their hands
before and after they interact with animals. If owners are sick with COVID-19, they should avoid
contact with animals in their household, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and
sharing food. If they need to care for their pet or be around animals while they are sick, they should
wash their hands before and after they interact with them and wear a facemask.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.


  • Should veterinarians start to vaccinate dogs against canine coronavirus because of the risk of

The canine coronavirus vaccines available in some global markets are intended to protect against
enteric coronavirus infection and are NOT licensed for protection against respiratory infections.
Veterinarians should NOT use such vaccines in the face of the current outbreak thinking that there
may be some form of cross-protection against COVID-19. There is absolutely no evidence that
vaccinating dogs with commercially available vaccines will provide cross-protection against the
infection by COVID-19, since the enteric and respiratory viruses are distinctly different variants of
coronavirus. No vaccines are currently available in any market for respiratory coronavirus infection
in the dog. [Information from the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group].


  • What is the WSAVA’s response to reports that a dog has been ‘infected’ with COVID-19 in Hong

Reports from Hong Kong on February 28 indicated that the pet dog of an infected patient had tested “weakly positive”to COVID-19 after routine testing. On March 5, the Hong Kong SAR Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that nasal, oral, rectal and fecal samples from the dog have been tested. On February 26 and 28, oral and nasal swabs were positive, while on March 2,only nasal swabs showed positive results. The rectal and fecal samples tested negative on all three occasions. Testing at both the government veterinary laboratory (AFCD) and the WHO accredited diagnostic human CoV laboratory at Hong Kong University (HKU) detected a low viral load in the nasal and oral swabs. Both laboratories used the real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method and the results indicate that there was a small quantity of COVID-19 viral RNA in the samples. It does not, however, indicate whether the samples contain intact virus particles which are infectious, or just fragments of the RNA, which are not contagious.

The dog, which is showing no relevant clinical signs, was removed from the household, which was the possible source of contamination on 26 February. Retesting was performed after the dog was put under quarantine to determine whether the dog was in fact infected orwhether its mouth and nose were being contaminated with COVID-19 virus from the household.

The AFCD’s document states that the “weak positive” result from the nasal sample taken 5 days after the dog was removed from the possible source of contamination suggests that the dog has a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission. However, there is still no evidence at this time that mammalian pet animals including dogs and cats can be a source of infection to other animals or humans.

WSAVA urges pet owners in areas where there are known human cases of COVID-19 to continue to follow the information in its Advisory, including washing their hands when interacting with their pets and, if sick, wearing face masks around them.The situation is rapidly evolving, and information will be updated as it becomes available.

We will update our Guidance as further information becomes available.

Note: WSAVA recognizes that not all recommendations will apply to all areas or all regions at all
times, depending on the epidemiological risk and risk mitigation in the area. WSAVA encourages
veterinarians to keep in close contact with, and follow the directions of, their local veterinary

If you are worried about the health of you pet please contact us: 509-448-4480, or Click to schedule an appointment.



Cancer in Pets – The Warning Signs

Cancer in Pets

Lumps, bumps, growths, and swellings are signs indicative of health issues that could be potentially life-threatening. As our pets continue to live longer lives, it is imperative that any symptom of a tumor be examined by a veterinarian. 


Benign tumors:
• Not generally life-threatening
• Slow growing
• Do not spread to other parts of the body
• Do not invade neighboring tissue
• Cured by surgery if the entire tumor is able to be removed

Malignant tumors:
• Generally always considered life-threatening
• Damage healthy cells
• Grow in an unrestricted way
• Invade neighboring tissue
• Spread to other parts of the body and establish growth in other areas after entering the lymphatic or circulatory system
• Result of environmental factors or hereditary/genetic sources
• Appropriate treatment dependent on the health of the animal and the size, location, and stage of the tumor


Veterinarians are able to detect a large number of cancers through a physical examination of the animal. Detection can occur through:

• Visual identification:
-Cancers that appear as growths or sores on or beneath the skin

• Inspection and palpation:
-Cancers under the skin
Example: Testicular or mammary gland cancers

• Hands-on examination:
-Swelling or lameness may indicate a cancer of the bone
Cancers that are found inside the body, such as in the spleen and liver, often show clinical signs before they are detected.

Common symptoms include:
• Weight loss
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Gastrointestinal bleeding




Companion animals are living longer today. Good food and living conditions plus increased and better opportunities for health care, are all indicative of our desire to have our pets live a good, long life. Since most cancers are discovered in middle-aged and senior dogs, clients need to remain vigilant with their veterinary visits if they want to detect a cancer in its earliest stage. One recommendation is that healthy animals seven years and older be given at least one yearly examination.

Pet parents need to know that the annual physical examinations provide baselines and screening information that could reveal the start of a change in the health of their pet. Early detection could improve the prognosis and prolong the animal’s life expectancy.

Yearly checkups may include:

• Physical examination
• Complete blood count
• Blood chemistries
• Urinalysis
• Parasite check
• Liver and kidney function tests
• Thyroid levels
• Chest x-ray
• Electrocardiogram
• Early renal disease health screen

Click to learn about: SouthCare – Preventative Care Exams


During the time between the yearly examinations, it is a good idea for clients to be aware of the warning signs of cancer. Any of the following symptoms indicate a need to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian.
• Lumps that do not go away, or ones that grow in size
• Abnormal odors
• Wounds that do not heal
• Abnormal discharges, such as blood, pus, diarrhea, vomiting
• Anemia
• Bloating
• Sudden weight loss
• Change in appetite
• Coughing
• Breathing difficulties
• Lethargy
• Depression
• Changes in urinary or bowel habits
• Pain
• Limping
• Swelling
The warning signs do not always mean to expect a diagnosis of cancer; but if they do, clients who know to be watchful, observant, and to contact their veterinarian right away, may help to save their pet’s life.

Click to learn about: SouthCare – Cancer Care

If you’re concerned about the health of your pet, or it’s been a while since their last exam – CALL US to schedule an appointment.  SouthCare: 509-448-4480  OR Click Here to Request an Exam