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COVID-19 and Pets: What You Should Know?

COVID-19 and Pets: What You Should Know?

The year 2020 will be remembered in history when the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting world economies and not to mention, claiming lives, as experts continue to work round the clock to contain the spread and formulate a vaccine. People worry about themselves and their families. Pet owners, it’s normal to feel concerned whether your pets will be affected too. Can cats and dogs be carriers of the virus? Can they pass it on to humans, or worse, can humans infect our beloved pets, too?

COVID-19 comes from the coronaviruses group of viruses that can cause symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, and runny nose. Human-to-human transmission occurs through direct contact with an infected person. You can also get the disease if you come in contact with surfaces where droplets of fluids containing the virus are present. These droplets may have come from an infected person spreads it through coughing or sneezing.

First infections are being linked to a live animal market in China, where different animals are sold. Scientists have discovered that bats may have been the initial source due the massive presence of coronaviruses in the species. As of today, experts are still studying the exact origin of the virus and how human transmission started.

COVID-19 Cases Involving Animals

In February 2020, a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested “weak positive” for the virus, although it didn’t exhibit any of the symptoms. The dog, whose owner was infected with COVID-19, is kept in quarantine under close observation. Within a week, there were undetectable levels of the virus in the dog’s system, indicating a low-level infection likely caused by human-to-animal transmission. The dog has since died, two days after it was released in March 14. Authorities say it’s unlikely that the death was virus-related.

On March 18, the two pet dogs of a patient that tested positive for COVID-19, also in Hong Kong, was placed under quarantine. One of them, a two-year-old German shepherd tested positive for the virus while results for the other dog came up negative. The two dogs will be kept in quarantine for 14 days.

What do these cases have in common? First, is that they both dogs’ owners are confirmed as being infected with the virus, indicating human-to-animal transmission. Secondly, both dogs didn’t show any symptoms of the COVID-19 disease. This means the virus was present in the animal’s system, but they didn’t get sick.

Further studies are still being conducted but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there’s no evidence yet that cats and dogs can transmit the virus to their human owners. There’s yet to be a reported case of cats being infected by the virus.

How to Protect Your Pet from COVID-19

Reported cases of household pets being infected by the COVID-19 virus are still rare. Health authorities in Hong Kong, where the two dogs tested positive for the virus, are advising pet owners to practice good hygiene at all times in order to protect their households, as well as their pets.

·         For the time being, it would also be best not to allow other people from outside your home to handle your pet.

·         Proper sanitation of surfaces at home, as well as frequent hand washing should be observed, especially when handling food, supplies, and pets. Clean up after your pets properly

·         If a member of the family becomes infected, such as in the above-mentioned cases, other members of the household, including pets, should immediately be put under quarantine.

·         It would also be prudent to arrange for someone to take care of your pet in case you’re infected with the virus. Avoid contact with your pets if you exhibit any symptoms of the COVID-19 disease.

WHO also offered recommendations on how to protect yourself from coronavirus:

·         Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing.

·         Dispose of the tissue properly.

·         Wash your hands frequently using soap or sanitizer.

·         Practice distancing of at least one meter away from people who are coughing or sneezing.

·         Stay home if you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness, avoiding contact with other people.

Health and animal experts have answered some of the most common questions pet owners concerns regarding their pets and COVID-19.

Can cats and dogs get sick from COVID-19 virus?

Dogs and cats can be carriers of the virus, but the two cases of dogs that tested positive in Hong Kong showed no evidence of the animals falling ill, or spreading the virus.

Dr. Dorrie Black of the San Francisco veterinary clinic Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services says that the existence of common coronaviruses within their systems make most animals more immune to the virus than humans.

What should I do if my pet needs emergency veterinary care?

It’s advisable that you call your vet and inquire about how they’re handling pet care services while cities around the world are in quarantine. Some vet hospitals offer drive-up and telemedicine services to provide patient care while limiting physical contact with humans.

Should I get my pet vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines for humans or animals are still unavailable as of this time. If you would like some peace of mind, ask your vet about getting your pet cat or dog vaccinated for respiratory diseases, including parainfluenza, canine influenza, and Bordetella.

Can I get the COVID-19 virus from my pet?

There has so far been no evidence that people can get infected with COVID-19 via their household pets, according to WHO. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US issued a statement saying that there’s no reason to think that any animals, including pets might be a source of infection with COVID-19.

Is a mask necessary for pets?

Pet masks may not be as effective in preventing transmission. When you have to take your dog out for a walk, be sure to allow safe distancing from other people to prevent yourself and your pet from catching the virus from an infected person.

To a lot of people, cats and dogs are a part of the family. Amid the uncertainties brought about by this ongoing global pandemic, it’s quite a relief knowing that no pets have fallen ill of the COVID-19 disease. They can be carriers of the virus, but won’t show symptoms. And there’s no evidence that they can transmit the disease to human beings. It is, however, important to practice good hygiene and extra care when handling our furry friends. 


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