When it comes to testing pets for COVID-19, listen to your veterinarian

Posted at 12:46 PM, Feb 15, 2021

The city of Seoul in South Korea has started testing pets for COVID-19 at no cost and they've found one case of coronavirus in a cat. This comes after another cat in the country tested positive.

Here in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says a few pets have contracted the virus.

Veterinarians say it's very rare for humans to infect cats and dogs. It's only likely if a pet has had prolonged exposure to a human with COVID-19.

Pet owners should really only worry about testing animals if a veterinarian has said it's a legitimate possibility.

“They almost always have to have had exposure to a person in the household who also has had COVID. So, just for any sort of run of the mill respiratory thing, I wouldn't jump to that,” said Dr. James Barr, Chief Medical Officer at BluePearl Pet Hospital.

The transmission rate from humans to pets is not really known at this point, partly because it is hard to tell if a pet has become infected.

“The problem that it causes in dogs and cats is likely so minimal that most people would never even think that their dog or cat got sick, so we really don't understand the true prevalence of that,” said Barr.

If your vet says your pet does need to be tested, it won't be difficult to do. Vets have easy access to labs that run tests on animals. They are administering the same PCR test to pets that are used on humans.