LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The spcaLA has shared guidelines on how to keep pets safe after a Pug named Winston in North Carolina has become the first dog in the U.S. to test positive for COVID-19.

Winston’s owner, Heather McClain, said she noticed something was off with her dog when he wasn’t eating.

“His symptoms were really very mild. Pugs are a little unusual that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way, so it almost seemed like he was very baggy and there was one day he really didn’t want to eat his breakfast.”

Winston was tested after several members of the family tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

The test was part of a new study conducted by Duke University that focuses on how the body responds to the infection.

“For the humans, they swabbed our noses as well as our mouth and for our animals, they just did oral swabs.”

According to researchers, Winston is the first instance in which the virus was detected in a dog.

The diagnosis comes just weeks after Nadia the tiger tested positive at the Bronx Zoo.

“What we thought was the virus particle that can only be bind to cats and people maybe now there’s a mutation and now it’s mutated to where it can bind to dogs as well,” said Chief Veterinarian for Airvet Telemedicine Jeff Werber

While Winston likely contracted the virus through his owners, it raises questions about whether animals can pass the virus to humans.

“There has been no evidence yet that with cats and dogs even if they were to get it from human to pet – there has been no evidence that shows that animals can pass it back to humans,” said Weber.

Because the case is uncharted territory, spcaLA released guidelines for pet owners:

  • Wash your hands after touching your pets.
  • Keep a distance of six feet between your dog and others and avoid dog parks.
  • Wipe paws after walks – Stay away from harsh chemicals like Lysol wipes and bleach.

As for Winston, his symptoms only lasted a few days and he is doing much better.

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