First dog to test positive for Covid-19 in US dies, doctors unsure if infection caused German Shepherd's death

On the day of his death, his family learned that he had lymphoma — a type of cancer that affects the immune system's white blood cells


                            First dog to test positive for Covid-19 in US dies, doctors unsure if infection caused German Shepherd's death
(Getty Images)

In June, Buddy — a German shepherd pet from New York — became the first dog to test positive for Covid-19 in the US. He died about a month later, according to National Geographic. However, the cause of his death is still unclear. Buddy is believed to have contracted the infection from his owner. Fast forward to July, and on the day of his death, his family learned that he had lymphoma — a type of cancer that affects the immune system's white blood cells. Doctors, meanwhile, are unsure of what killed the dog: was it cancer, the virus or a combination of both?

Some time in mid-April, Buddy began gasping for breath. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVS) sent out a press release, announcing the first case among canines in the US. "Samples from the dog were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The dog is expected to make a full recovery," they said in a statement.

As his condition worsened, Buddy began vomiting blood clots. Describing their pet's agony, his owner Allison Mahoney, told National Geographic: "It looked like it was his insides coming out. He had it all over. It was coming from his nose and mouth. We knew there was nothing that could be done for him from there. What are you going to do for a dog with this? But he had the will to live. He didn't want to go," she said. However, he died on July 11, leaving his family devastated.

According to the USDA, close to 25 animals — dogs, cats and big cats — have tested positive in America, mostly after coming in contact with infected people. "At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes Covid-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading Covid-19 to people is considered to be low," stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mobile Veterinary Service Cares For Pets (Getty Images)

How to keep your pets safe? 

The CDC does not recommend routine testing of animals for Covid-19 at the moment. But if owners suspect the infection in their pet dogs, the CDC suggests that they call their veterinarian, instead of going to the clinic. "Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care."

The CDC advocates walking for the well-being of dogs. The agency, however, urges owners to walk dogs on a leash and maintain at least 6 feet distance from others. "Do not gather in groups, stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. To help maintain social distancing, do not let other people pet your dog when you are out for a walk," the CDC added.

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