Veterinarian says pugs could be more susceptible to coronavirus


  • The CDC extends its coronavirus social-distancing guidelines to pets after a pug in North Carolina became the first dog in the US to test positive for COVID-19.
  • Veterinarian Annie Harvilicz says pugs are predisposed to respiratory diseases, making them more at risk of severe coronavirus complications.
  • The veterinarian says that the dog got infected because he is a prolific face-licker.

The United States records the first dog to test positive for the coronavirus inside the country. Winston, the pug from Chapel Hill, North Carolina is reported to be more susceptible to the virus because of his breed, animal experts say.

The pug is a breed of dog with physically distinctive features — wrinkly, and short-muzzled face. The breed is predisposed to respiratory diseases because of their distinct squished-looking noses, says Chief Medical Officer for Animal Wellness Centers Hospitals, Annie Harvilicz, DVM.

“Pugs have brachycephalic syndrome. This gives them the appearance of a shortened snout but causes them to have upper respiratory issues,” Harvilicz said. “It’s possible that being a pug made him more susceptible to the virus.”

Per published research papers on coronavirus, immunocompromised humans with respiratory diseases are more prone to severe disease infection. This holds true in canines, the doctor reports.

Brachycephalic breeds refer to the dogs with a short nose, short necks, and flat face. These dog breeds are more vulnerable to coronavirus, Dr. Harvilicz speculates. Other brachycephalic breeds include bulldogs, Chow-Chows, and Shih Tzus.

Winston contracted the virus after the positive diagnosis for both of his owners. The doctor takes note of the probability that the dog got infected because he is a prolific face-licker, citing the fact that there’s another dog in the house that didn’t contract the virus.

“Pets that are testing positive are probably getting large viral load because the [coronavirus] is not replicating as well in canines,” the doctor said. “I think we are experiencing freak occurrences of animals testing positive.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended coronavirus social-distancing guidelines to domesticated animals earlier this week, recommending that pet owners take precautionary steps and isolate their animals from other animals in parks. The protection agency emphasizes that animal-to-human transmission is low, but probable.

“The virus can stay on a dog’s fur… I’d be looking for anything that might be on the ground, possibly spit or moisture, during walks,” Executive Director Marty Irby, Animal Wellness Action, said. “Wipe your dog’s paws and give him a regular bath.”

The disease infection in dogs is uncommon based on the number of reported coronavirus cases outside the country. This includes one Pomeranian that tested positive for the virus and had died since.

Source: New York Post

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