Covid-19 Testing Now Available To Veterinarians


The test is made in response to growing evidence that pets can contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that testing kits would be made available to veterinarians. Rather, IDEXX is making a PCR test for pets (SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR™ Test), which requires a veterinarian to send a sample to a lab.
Veterinarians in North America are now able to send in samples testing for the novel coronavirus in pets, announced US-based veterinary diagnostics company IDEXX. A roll-out to the rest of the world is anticipated in the coming weeks,

SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test for pets is made in response to growing evidence that pets can contract SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19.

“We have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving public health crisis worldwide, paying special attention to the effects on pets,” said Jay Mazelsky, president and chief Executive officer of IDEXX Laboratories, in a statement.


“While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats play a role in transmitting the disease to humans, it became clear offering the test was the right thing to do when we saw clinical evidence that pets – especially cats and ferrets – can in rare cases be at risk for infection. And, we heard from our customers around the globe that veterinarians needed a testing option.”

In rare situations, pets have been able to contract SARS-CoV-2, though transmission is not fully understood. By and large, experts agree that it is unlikely pets can transmit the virus to their owners and any perceived threat is considered “negligible” when compared to that of human-to-human transmission. A growing number of cases around the world have suggested that human-to-animal transmission is possible after a Belgian cat became the first confirmed case of Covid-19. Most recently, two cats in New York are the first US pets to test positive for the virus and comes after at least eight big cats have tested positive for coronavirus at a New York zoo. Though some dogs tested positive for the virus, canines appear to show moderate symptoms.

IDEXX notes that our understanding of the virus and its effects on humans and animals alike continues to evolve. They have tested more than 5,000 animals for the virus in 17 countries, from cats and dogs to horses. No positive results have been reported, which the company says indicates cats and dogs living with infected people remain largely uninfected themselves. These findings confirm that “reverse zoonotic transmission” from humans to pets is uncommon.

Asymptomatic pets will not be screened and experts contend that testing will be limited to animals strongly suspected of being exposed to Covid-19. Veterinarians must first consult with a state public health authority before issuing a test and must determine that the pet was living in a household with a person who has tested positive for the virus or Covid-19. Other health conditions must also be ruled out. Pets, especially cats and ferrets, that show symptoms consistent with Covid-19 may also be tested.


The SARS-CoV-2 RealPCR Test for pets works in much the same as human testing and can detect the presence of the virus in deep pharyngeal swab as well as analyzing feces. IDEXX says that it does not expect the pet test will impact human testing or the availability of tests.

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