Can I catch Covid-19 From my Pets?
A common question that veterinary surgeons are being asked is: Can I get Covid 19 from my pet dog or cat?
According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, “the current evidence strongly indicates that COVID-19 cannot be contracted from pets.”
Despite the reports from Hong Kong about an extremely small number of dogs that tested positive, there is currently no evidence to suggest that pets can transmit Covid 19 disease to humans.
More recently, a cat in Belgium tested positive for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and understandably this has caused alarm in some pet owners.
The cat’s owner was ill and was later diagnosed with Covid-19. The cat’s faeces and vomit were tested as positive although it is still unclear whether they were contaminated from the owner’s home environment or whether that cat was infected.
As with the reported dog infections, it is more likely that the owner contaminated the cat rather than the other way around. Therefore experts still advise that cats and dogs should not be considered as a high risk to owners.
However, it does remind us again that we should maintain good hygiene before and handling our pets. Owners with signs consistent with Covid-19 should ask someone else to care for their pets.
The Evidence on Covid 19
IDEXX, an international provider of veterinary diagnostics, has recently announced that, after testing thousands of cat and dog samples, not one has tested positive for Covid 19, the Coronavirus responsible for the outbreak seen in humans. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have also issued a statement saying that they have not received any reports of other animals becoming ill from Covid 19.
Unfortunately, despite experts agreeing that there is no evidence that pets pose a risk, many animals are being relinquished because of unfounded fears by some owners, which is very sad.
Confusion has probably arisen because this Coronavirus mutated from an animal to man at an animal market in China. Indeed, other animals, including cats and dogs, can suffer from different strains of Coronavirus. The strain in cats is responsible for Feline Infectious Peritonitis and the strain in dogs often causes gastro-intestinal problems. Similarly, cats and dogs can get influenza but, like Coronavirus, the flu strains are specific to the host species. In other words, animals can get diseases that are part of the same family of infections that we suffer from but these usually cannot be transmitted to us and vice versa.
However, we still don’t know everything there is to know about the virus and because hygiene is extremely important in helping to control the transmission of diseases, it is sensible to carry out proper hand-washing after handling and touching pets. Theoretically it is also possible for an animal to carry the virus on its fur but only if it had been handled by an infected person who hadn’t washed their hands properly.WHO have provided some advice on hand-washing protocols and this can be found here
For anyone self-isolating, find up to date advice about caring for your pets here.
And for more information on Coronavirus in animals ,the AVMA have developed some information which can be accessed by clicking here
Planning Trips to the Vets
Because of the Covid 19 pandemic we have been advised to stay at home. So it is advisable to stock up on any prescription drugs your pet is receiving from your veterinarian. Ask them about their policy on getting these to you. Also, because we don’t know how long these restrictions will last, do think about getting preventative treatments sent. Flea and worming products can be bought online or posted out by your vet.
If your pet does need emergency veterinary treatment, make sure you know the protocols your practice has in place. Policies on home visits have been amended so get in touch with your vet to find out what they have planned.
This is a rapidly changing situation and this advise is based on information gleaned at the time of writing. Therefore it is highly advisable to keep abreast of all the latest developments. WHO and the Government website provide up to date advice.
If you are interested in learning more about canine diseases and want to understand how canine diseases are transmitted have a look at my fully accredited certificate in Canine Health & Welfare course which is verifiable CPD. The Certificate course in Feline Health & Welfare is coming soon. To register your interest please get in touch.
In the meantime stay safe and look after yourselves and your pets.