CAN PETS GET THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE
One of the first thoughts I had when I learned of the novel coronavirus was, “I’ve heard of canine coronavirus, I wonder if this new outbreak could affect dogs and cats, too?” It seems like I’m not the only one worried about our furry family members, “Can pets get the coronavirus disease?” is a trending question on Google right now. It turns out, however, that pet parents can rest assured with the knowledge that our pets are almost certainly not at risk.
What do I mean by almost certainly? Well, there are two reported cases of dogs in Hong Kong and one reported case of a cat in Belgium testing positive for COVID-19. Despite these cases, however, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) asserts that, “infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.”
WHAT ABOUT OTHER ANIMALS
As for other animals, a tiger in the United States (NY) has also tested positive, with two other tigers and three lions at the same facility also exhibiting symptoms. How did this happen? Public health officials believe the tiger had exposure to a zoo employee who was actively shedding the virus. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has stated that, “Anyone sick with COVID-19 should restrict contact with animals, including pets, during their illness, just as they would with other people. Although there have not been reports of pets becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If a sick person must care for a pet or be around animals, they should wash their hands before and after the interaction.”
So, what does all of that actually mean? For anyone who is sick, ask someone else in your household to take over the primary care of your pets and definitely no snuggling or kissing your pets while you’re ill!
I started to wonder if perhaps cases in pets were underrepresented due to limited testing being done, and after some researching on the topic of COVID-19 testing and testing protocols in dogs and cats I was pleased to find out that IDEXX Reference Laboratories, a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software, said that they have been testing thousands of specimens from both dogs and cats for COVID-19 and that, so far, none of them have tested positive.
THE GOOD NEWS
This is GOOD NEWS, pet people. It means that we do have the ability to test pets if necessary, and that the few positive cases that have been reported seem to be the exception, rather than the rule.
So what am I going to do with all of my new knowledge about COVID-19 and pets? For starters, I’m going to keep up all my “new normal” practices of working from home, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and desperately trying not to touch my face. My dogs are still going to get an abundance of love and playtime (let’s face it I’m home all day now and they keep me sane). However, if I feel at any point that I might be getting sick, I am going to treat them as I would any other member of my family and limit my contact with them to ensure their health and safety.
Wishing all of you the best during this troubling time – don’t forget to tell your pets they’re GOOD BOYS AND GIRLS… LITERALLY, THE BEST… and for the love of dogs, go wash your hands!