The dogs that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 likely caught it from their owners, Nature News reports.
Two dogs in Hong Kong — a Pomeranian and a German Shepherd — tested positive for the virus, though neither showed signs of illness. As they report in Nature, researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong government examined samples from dogs whose owner became ill. The viral genomes isolated from these two dogs were identical to the viral genomes isolated from their owners, indicating, the researchers say, SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted from humans to animals.
Utrecht University's Arjan Stegeman, who was not involved in the study, tells Nature News the likelihood of such transmission is low, as only two of the 15 dogs in the researchers' analysis tested positive. Still, Nature News says that the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends people who have become ill with COVID-19 wear a mask when caring for their pets. It's unclear, the Hong Kong researchers say in their paper, whether infected dogs can pass the virus along to other animals or back to humans.
Cats have also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 — including big cats at the Bronx Zoo — and studies have suggested cats can pass the virus to each other, Nature News adds.