The first dog to test positive for coronavirus in the United States has died, National Geographic magazine reported, after battling symptoms that may be familiar to many people with the virus.
Buddy, the seven-year-old German Shepherd, fell ill in April, around the time his owner, Robert Mahoney, was recovering from Covid-19, according to the magazine this week.
Buddy appeared to have a stuffy nose and difficulty breathing, and his condition only worsened over the following weeks and months.
Mahoney and his wife Allison, who live in New York City, finally euthanized the dog on July 11 after Buddy began vomiting blood clots, urinating blood and was unable to walk.
But the family told National Geographic they had struggled to confirm their suspicions that Buddy was infected with SARS-CoV-2.
“Without a doubt, I thought (Buddy) was positive,” said Mahoney, but many vets in their area have been closed due to the pandemic.
Some of them were skeptical that pets would contract the virus. And most of the test supplies were kept for human use anyway.
A clinic was finally able to confirm Buddy was positive and found the family’s 10-month-old puppy – who was never sick – had anti-virus antibodies.
Buddy’s vets later discovered that the dog probably also suffered from lymphoma, raising the question whether animals – like humans – with pre-existing illnesses might also be more susceptible to serious illnesses from the novel coronavirus.
Neither public health officials nor veterinarians were able to offer the family much information, they told National Geographic, because there was not enough data on the virus in animals, otherwise. beyond the fact that infection seemed rare.
“We had no knowledge or experience of the science behind Covid in dogs,” Robert Cohen, the veterinarian who tested Buddy, told magazine.
And it seemed to them that neither the city nor the federal health authorities were very interested in learning about Buddy’s case. By the time they decided to do an autopsy, Buddy had already been cremated.
The official word from the World Health Organization is that pets probably don’t often pass the virus on to their owners.
But Shelley Rankin, a veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania, said more study is needed.
“If we tell the world that the prevalence (of animal cases) is low, then we have to look at a high number of animals,” she said.
Twelve of dogs and 10 cats have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United States, according to National Geographic.
The Mahoneys say they want Buddy’s story to be heard.
“(He was) a good little pumpkin. I just wish we had it longer, “said Allison Mahoney.