by Dr Kathleen Deckard
Pets R Family
COVD-19 is at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now so I want to address some common questions about whether your pet may be affected by this virus.
What is COVID-19?
While coronaviruses are common, COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that had previously not been identified in humans. The key features of COVID-19 are respiratory symptoms with a fever and cough. Like all new infections, understanding COVID-19 is important with details coming in rapidly.
Coronaviruses in pets have been around for a very long time. It is important to know that the coronavirus of infected dogs and cats cannot affect humans. Cats get their own coronavirus that typically causes either no clinical signs or very mild diarrhea. The feline coronavirus is also associated with another disease called feline infectious peritonitis, which is very serious. Similarly, dogs have their own coronavirus that can cause diarrhea, lethargy, and reduced appetite, but most dogs recover uneventfully with supportive care. Simply stated, cat and dog coronaviruses are very different than COVID-19.
Can my pet get it?
On February 27, 2020, news broke of a Pomeranian in Hong Kong that tested weak positive for COVID-19 from swabs obtained from the nose and mouth. It is important to note that it is highly unlikely that your pet would be able to harbor the virus on their fur since it is porous and fibrous. Veterinarians and human health officials have decided after many tests, that the affected dog had a low-level of infection that was likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.
To be cautious, the dog was quarantined, but has never had clinical signs of illness. Based on currently available information, both the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) report there is no evidence cats or dogs can spread COVID-19. Furthermore, there is also no evidence pets get sick from COVID-19.
One of the world’s leading veterinary diagnostics firms tested thousands of dogs and cats for the new coronavirus, and not a single case came back positive. This backs up the theory that pets cannot catch or spread Covid-19.
How Covid-19 could have an impact on available pet medications.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 32 animal drug companies either make their drugs or obtain ingredients for their drugs from China. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) contacted all of these companies, and to date, none of them have reported drug shortages however shortages are anticipated in the future.
What should I do?
Although research is underway, there is no vaccine against COVID-19 currently available. Until we have an effective vaccine, we all need to exercise some common sense, including:
Stay informed – read unfiltered information from veterinarians as more data becomes available
Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, including after handling / petting animals. This recommendation isn’t specific for COVID-19 – hand washing helps reduce the transmission of multiple infectious diseases!
If you have COVID-19, restrict contact with pets and other animals. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sick individuals should “avoid contact with animals, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.” Another family member or friend should care for animals in the household whenever possible.
The take-away message about
COVID-19 and pets…
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 is not thought to cause clinical disease in companion animals. As we learn more about this virus, you should keep abreast of any new information that is learned about the virus.
Most veterinarians are staying open as essential providers of care for our pets and are taking proper precautions to limit person to person contact. These precautions include curbside service, shipment of medication to the home, delivery of food and medications, drop off appointments, telemedicine and phone consultations. Do not delay your pet’s care during this time. Contact your veterinarian for how they can help care for your pet during this challenging time.
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