Apr 21 2020

COVID-19 and Our Pets

COVID-19 is a viral disease in humans that is caused by a coronavirus call SARS-CoV-2. This novel virus is thought to have originated in an animal and jumped to humans. At this time we do not know exactly which animal species are involved and it likely involved more than one species. One of the hypothesized theories is the virus went from bats to pangolins to humans.

If this virus can go from a bat to a human, can the virus go from a human to a dog or cat? To date, 2 dogs and 1 cat in Hong Kong, 1 cat in Belgium, and a Tiger in New York have tested positive for COVID-19 virus. The cat in Belgium and the Tiger in New York did show symptoms of illness, while the animals in Hong Kong had no symptoms.

All of these animals were in contact with humans that had COVID-19 and likely contracted the virus from a human. So far there is no evidence that cats or dogs can give the virus back to humans.

Ongoing research is being done to determine the role that pets could play in COVID-19 transmission. Scientists at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China, in a study not yet peer reviewed, found that “SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats. We found that the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets.”

Until more is known about this new coronavirus it is important to include our pets in social distancing.

Here are some general guidelines from Dr. J. Scott Weese, a veterinarian, internal medicine specialist and pathobiologist at the University of Guelph, Ontario Canada. He has published information via his Worms & Germs blog.

  • If you’re infected, limit contact with animals. 
  • If someone in your house is infected, keep your animals away from other animals and people.
  • Social distancing also includes your pets. Keep your pets away from other people and animals outside your household, just like you should be doing with yourself.

The important fact to remember is that we pose more a risk to our pets, than our pets do to us. We just need to take the above simple, common sense precautions if we become ill.    ENJOY THESE PHOTOS OF OUR PETS AT HOME.

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Adrian Nevill, BVM&S Hawthorne Hills Veterinary Hospital, Seattle WA | Diagnosis, Diseases, Respiratory Diseases, Zoonosis & Human Health

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