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North Carolina Pug Tests Positive For COVID-19: What Do Dog Owners Need To Know?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A North Carolina pug named Winston is believed to be the first dog to get COVID-19 from his owners.

That got us wondering, what do dog owners in Chicago need to know about symptoms, transmission, and those popular dog parks?

We sent CBS 2's Steven Graves to get some answers Tuesday.

Whether you walk your dogs in city streets and parks or cuddling with them at home, in this time of isolation, man's best friend is more important than ever.

"I'm definitely around him a lot more, which he likes," said dog owner Andrew Cox.

But researchers in North Carolina say that quality time led to the first COVID-19 case in a dog in the U.S. Winston caught the virus from his sick owners, possibly after they let the canine share a bed and lick plates.

"Not too much concern," said Dr. Jay Whittle of Palos Park.

But it is something Whittle is monitoring closely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to say the risk remains low.

Only a few other felines have tested positive after coming into contact with an infected human. But can animals pass it to humans?

"The virus can be found on the dog or in the dog, but it doesn't mean it can then transmit to people," Dr. Whittle said.

The doctor said if you are feeling sick, isolate yourself.

"They should be exercising social distance from their pets," Whittle said.

The doctor also warned that pet owners should not panic if they see COVID-19-like symptoms in their animals.

"It's also a high allergy time of year, so right now we have a lot of pets that are going to be experiencing some other respiratory symptoms," Whittle said.

Cox said he is just being more careful, paying close attention to who pets his dog.

"You feel bad doing it, you know, with a cutie like this - but you really don't want people petting your dog unless they're sanitizing their hands," Cox said.

And while details remain unclear about how or if the virus spreads from animal to animal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you keep your pet away from other pets – similar to how us humans are social distancing.

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