Many owners have a very high rate of direct contact with their dogs, including face-to-face contact, licking and sharing of beds. Researchers believe that because of this close contact, human-to-animal spillover of the virus that causes COVID-19 may be common among household dogs, but that the disease in dogs is either mild or rare. To better understand the risk and rate of transmission to pets, the team has designed a test that measures viral antibodies in serum, saliva and feces. The test will be used on dog samples collected from veterinary hospitals and households in combination with health records and owner surveys on behavior, pet interactions, and pet and human health. A subset of serum samples from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will be part of this analysis. Researchers hope they can better understand if and how dogs are affected by the virus – valuable information for veterinarians and owners alike.
Kaitlin Sawatzki, PhD