A pug in North Carolina named Winston is believed to be the first dog in the United States to test positive for COVID-19, according to the dog's owners. Winston's owner Heather McLean said every member of her family except her daughter tested positive for the virus. Then, the family noticed their beloved dog was acting strange.
"He was gagging, and there was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual," McLean told Inside Edition.
McLean said the dog was tested and it came back positive. Everyone in the family, including Winston, has recovered. Their pet cat, considered to potentially be more vulnerable to the virus, did not contract it.
"This has been very stressful and we're feeling very grateful that we made it through," McLean said.
There is no current evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which also recently announced new guidelines for pet owners:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
- If you are sick, avoid unnecessary contact including petting, snuggling, being licked or sharing a bed.
- Wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet.
According to Dr. Timnah Lee, a veterinarian at Tribeca Soho Animal Hospital, the likelihood of your pet contracting COVID-19 is very low, but advises to keep a close eye on any possible symptoms.
"Signs to look out for if your pet is experiencing any sort of illness would be potentially a cough, respiratory concerns, as in not breathing as well as usual, decreased appetite," Lee said.