We all know that COVID-19 is widely spreading among the human population but a major worry has emerged among pet lovers, whether pets can be affected from COVID-19.
After a four-year-old Malayan tigress housed at the Bronx Zoo in New York, tested positive for COVID-19 in early April, a major worry has emerged among people especially from pet lovers whether their companion animals- primarily cats and dogs can get COVID-19.
Do Really Pets get COVID-19?
Yes, pets are being affected by COVID-19 but World Health Organization says that there is currently no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in this pandemic.
Generally, human-to-animal transmission is suspected because most of our home pets became sick after contact with people with COVID-19.
Two pet dogs in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19, and both dogs lived in homes with COVID-19 positive owners. Local health officials characterize the cases of the 2 dogs in Hong Kong as “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission,” and neither dog showed any signs of illness from the virus.
However, there have been reports of both the species (cats and dogs) testing positive for COVID-19, but what has to be taken into account that the primary route of virus transmission is mostly human-to-human.
Research on Animals and COVID-19
Research on COVID-19 in animals is limited, but studies are underway to learn more about how this virus can affect different animals.
- Data from one study suggest that dogs are not as easily infected with the virus as cats and ferrets.
- In experimental condition, cats have shown clinical signs of disease including respiratory signs.
- Both cats and ferrets were ready to transmit infection to other animals of an equivalent species.
- Mice, pigs, chickens, and ducks do not seem to become infected or spread the infection based on results from these studies.
It is recommended that people who are sick with COVID-19 limit contact with their companion and other animals.
COVID-19 mainly spreads through droplet produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. When handling pet animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes,
- Washing your hands after handling your pet.
- Avoid hugging or close contact with your pet animals.
- If sick with COVID-19, minimize your interactions with your pet as much as possible.
- Snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food with your pet has to be strictly avoided during this pandemic.
- Wearing Face masks to your pet may not protect your pet from disease transmission and may cause other breathing difficulties.
And the most important protection for your pet is this: Under no circumstances should owners abandon their dogs, cats, or other pets because of COVID-19 fears.
Can Veterinarians Test for COVID-19 in Pets?
Veterinarians can test your pet for COVID-19 but because of the minimal risk of pets being exposed to this virus, USDA, CDC and others are not recommending pets to be tested for Corona virus at this time.
If your pets get sick or if you are observing an unusual behaviour from your pet such as eating less food than usual then it is better to consult your vet. If needed you can test your pet for corona virus under your veterinarian supervision.
Do Pets Spread COVID-19?
There is no exact evidence till today that home pet animals can transmit the disease to humans and spread COVID-19. The World Health Organization previously stated, “There isn’t any exact evidence that a dog, cat or any other pet animals can transmit COVID-19. to humans.”
In addition to that CDC stated, “This virus seems to be emerged from animal source but now it’s spreading from person-to-person.”
However, in order to protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. Covering your face with a cloth face covering can also helps to reduce the likelihood of spreading droplets.
Want to Take your Pet outside
If you want to take your pet(s) out of your house then follow the below listed instructions:
- Wear gloves and clothes that can be easily washed.
- Have a leash or carrier to put the pet in so the pet can be taken out of the house safely.
- Keep your pets together and isolated away from other pets for 14 days out of an abundance of caution.
- Wash hands/clothes after leaving the house.
- Avoid as much as possible touching surfaces when you are going out for a walk with your pet.
Stay healthy and be safe and provide a safe and secured environment for your pets at this devastating time.