It is believed the pug – named Buster – was infected over the New Year’s holiday while being cared for by a person who became ill with COVID.
"The dog is overall doing well, but he continues to have nasal congestion and clinical signs," the pug’s veterinarian Dr. Drew Sullivan said in a report published by the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine.
The dog’s owners, who were away for the New Year’s holiday and placed Buster in the care of the other person, had not been ill with COVID so it’s unlikely they infected the pug.
"The source of infection appears to be a person who was caring for him over the New Year’s holiday while his owners were away. The caretaker became very ill with COVID while caring for the dog," Dr. Sullivan said in the report.
The testing of the dog’s sample was first conducted by veterinary virologist Dr. Ying Fang and her research team at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The positive test was then confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
"The dog developed signs of respiratory illness about one week after the exposure. Initially, I suspected common canine respiratory pathogens. However, because the dog was not improving, I became suspicious of something else," Dr. Sullivan in the report.
While COVID-19 has been detected in cats in Illinois, this is the first case of a dog becoming infected in the state. Dogs and cats have tested positive in other states, the USDA reports.
According to the report, Dr. Sullivan – who is also the director of the Medical District Veterinary Clinic in Chicago – says he has seen many dogs with respiratory signs that are unusual compared to the common "kennel cough."
Having spoken with the various dogs’ owners, the majority of them told Dr. Sullivan the unusual symptoms in their pets began around the same time a person in the home tested positive for COVID-19.
Therefore, Dr. Sullivan believes it’s possible more dogs than we know of have been infected with COVID. He added that these infections rarely cause severe disease in pets.
Dr. Sullivan says that dogs with lingering symptoms appear to benefit from steroidal medications.