As the country appears to be heading into quarantine, whether government-mandated or self-induced, people are spending more time at home with their pets, and want to learn more about how COVID-19 may affect them. Keep in mind that not everything portrayed in the media is entirely accurate, but we can point you in the right direction to find the answers you need. To start, here are 10 facts you, as a pet owner, need to know about COVID-19.
#1: Not all sources contain accurate information on COVID-19
As tempting as it is to turn to social media to check in on family and friends, social networks can also spread a lot of misinformation. Rather than spending time weeding out fact from fiction, check out reputable, science-based sources for current COVID-19 updates, including:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
You can also call our hospital for updated information regarding COVID-19 and your pet’s health, and to check for changes in our operating policies, as more becomes known about the disease.
#2: Dogs and cats can get coronaviruses
Although many people know there is a vaccination for coronavirus in dogs, they may not realize that vaccination is solely for the enteric form, not COVID-19. Canine enteric coronavirus generally causes diarrhea, but the disease is often self-limiting, so many veterinarians no longer vaccinate for it. Canine coronavirus also occurs in a respiratory form that has been associated with kennel cough cases, but is not similar to COVID-19.
Cats can also be afflicted with an enteric form of coronavirus that causes diarrhea. In rare cases, this coronavirus can lie dormant, and then mutate to cause feline infectious peritonitis, which is almost always fatal.
#3: COVID-19 is a human coronavirus
Many species can be affected by coronaviruses, but this virus family is often species-specific. Jumping from species to species is rare, but can happen, as with COVID-19. The current thought is that COVID-19 first developed in bats, similar to two other betacoronaviruses, SARS and MERS. As of now, multiple human and animal health organizations have stated that COVID-19 appears to be a human-only disease that is spread by person-to-person contact.
#4: Pets do not appear to be affected by COVID-19
As a pet owner, you have likely heard of the dog who tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong. This 17-year-old Pomeranian tested “weak positive” after his owner was diagnosed with COVID-19. During his quarantine period, he displayed no respiratory illness signs, and his samples eventually tested negative before he was released.
#5: Pets appear unable to transmit COVID-19 to people
The primary transmission route of COVID-19 is through direct person-to-person contact, such as when a sick person sneezes or coughs nearby, and you inhale the respiratory droplets. A secondary, less common transmission method can occur through contact with a contaminated surface. Smooth surfaces, such as door handles and light switches, are more likely to spread infection, but porous surfaces, such as fur, money, and clothing, are less likely, as the virus particles become trapped in the fibrous material. As the CDC and other organizations have stated, there is no evidence to indicate that pets can become ill from COVID-19, serve as an infection source for people, or transmit the disease to other animals or people.
#6: Your pet should have an emergency stash of supplies, too
When you’re out madly rushing around to find toilet paper, don’t forget to stock up on your pet’s supplies. Many people use online marketplaces for food, treats, and toys, but there is now no guarantee shipments will arrive on time. Ensure your pet has enough food, treats, and medication to last two to four weeks. If your pet is on a prescription diet, or needs a medication refill, give us a call.
#7: Your pet can be tested for COVID-19, but testing is not recommended
IDEXX, a major veterinary diagnostic company, evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a veterinary diagnostic test for COVID-19, and saw no positive results. Since the current understanding is that COVID-19 is transmitted directly from person-to-person, testing pets is unnecessary.
#8: You should not be your pet’s primary caretaker if you have COVID-19
Although no evidence currently indicates that pets can become ill with COVID-19, various health organizations suggest avoiding your pet out of an abundance of caution if you are ill and, ideally, having someone else care for your pet. Otherwise, wash your hands before and after handling your pet, and avoid kissing, hugging, snuggling, and sharing food.
#9: Let the appropriate authorities know if your pet becomes ill after you’ve been sick with COVID-19
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and your pet develops respiratory issues, contact our hospital immediately for the best course of action. You should also contact your local public health official for guidance.
#10: Caldwell Animal Hospital is here for the health and safety of your pet and your family
Despite the worry over this growing pandemic, our team is still here to care for your beloved companion. In the coming days and weeks, our operating policies may change, to reduce potential infection, so call us before heading to our hospital. We may need to reschedule elective procedures and wellness visits, to conserve medical supplies, but we will still be available to care for sick and injured pets. For the most current information regarding our hospital protocols, and COVID-19 and your pet, contact us.