First dog infected with Covid-19 passed away: “Little is known about the effect of the virus on dogs”

Buddy, a seven-year-old German Shepherd dog from New York, died on July 11 after experiencing respiratory problems in mid-April, according to the reports from the National Geographic. While the dog likely had cancer, his health data shows how little we know about animals and the coronavirus.

In Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York, a German shepherd became infected with Covid-19. Reportedly, in mid-April, the dog began to show symptoms of the coronavirus not long after its owner, Robert Mahoney, contracted the virus.

In the following month, Buddy lost a lot of bodyweight and energy, which troubled his owners. The animal was taken to a vet, who prescribed medication and questioned whether the dog had contracted the coronavirus.

After multiple visits to three different veterinarians, heart medications, steroids, and other medical procedures, Buddy was finally tested for the coronavirus at Bay Street animal hospital in Rosebank on May 15. But it wasn’t until June 2 that the New York City Department of Health called the Mahoney family to tell them their dog had actually contracted the virus.

Buddy thus became the first dog in the US to test positive for the coronavirus.


Until the day before yesterday, Buddy’s identity, details of his state of health, and death were not made public. Medical records released by the Mahoneys and ordered by National Geographic to be verified by two vets who were not involved in Buddy’s treatment indicate that the dog likely had lymphoma. That’s cancer that could explain the symptoms that Buddy suffered just before his death.

It is unclear whether cancer has made the dog more susceptible to the coronavirus. The virus itself may be the cause of its illness, or it may have been an accidental combination of circumstances. Buddy’s family made the terribly difficult decision to put their beloved pet to sleep on July 11 after months had passed.

Kholood Eid / National Geographic Allison Mahoney holds a photo of her seven-year-old German Shepherd Buddy at her home in Staten Island, New York.
©Kholood Eid/National Geographic – Allison Mahoney holds a photo of her seven-year-old German Shepherd Buddy at her home in Staten Island, New York.


Experts maintain that “the risk of coronavirus infection for pets remains low.” While more than four million people in the US were diagnosed with Covid-19, fewer than 25 pets were diagnosed the same.

Moreover, “no evidence has been found that animals can transmit the disease to humans,” it says. Nevertheless, the experts also call for vigilance because “little is known about the effect of the coronavirus on dogs”.

National Geographic, USA Today
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