COVID-19 AND PETS
We are in a period of unprecedented uncertainty and there is so much information circulating out there that may be substantiated and correct and just as much, if not more that is fear and panic driven and incorrect. It has come to my attention that the later situation has been leading to fear amongst pet owners to surrender or euthanize their pets for fear of contracting COVID-19 from them.
Here are the facts of what we know:
- COVID-19 did originate from contact between animals and humans in a live animal market. Now however, the virus transmits from human to human.
- Can our pets catch the virus from humans?
- The answer is yes. We know that dogs can catch it, as there have been 2 reported cases so far of dogs testing positive. As of now, cats have not tested positive but is likely that they could also catch it.
- If our pets were to contract the disease though, as they are not the target species, it is extremely unlikely that they would ever show any clinical signs of illness.
- Can we catch the virus from our pets?
- The honest answer is that we do not know for sure. At this point, there is no evidence that we can catch COVID-19 from our pets as they are likely a dead-end host for it. This means that the virus will not be able to return from the pet to the human population.
- Although an infected pet can not transmit the virus to us directly, they could however act as a surface vector to spread the virus, just as a door handle, a handshake or a countertop to name a few. It is suspected that the virus could remain on the haircoat of a pet for up to 2 hours or possibly a bit more.
- If I am infected, should I be around my pet?
- Remember, a pet is just another member of your family, take with them the same precautions that you would with your family and while you are sick, have someone else care for the pet. If you are the sole care giver and are unable to place your pet in another home away from you, then ensure that you wash your hands well before handling your pet and avoid cuddling and close contact activities.
- If my pet could carry the virus on their fur, should I consider surrendering it or euthanizing it so I can’t catch the virus?
- Simply, no. We need to think rationally about this scenario. If we are practicing appropriate social distancing when we are out with our pets, then they will not be able to pick it up from someone when they are outside on walks.
- If we are not allowing our pets to be in contact with people outside of our household, then the only way that they could pick it up would be from within their own household, which means that we have already contracted the virus and gave it to our own pets.
The bottom line here is that we still don’t know where things will go and what will evolve in a rapidly changing situation. If, however we adhere to the facts of what we know for now, keep calm and level-headed and follow recommendations to avoid any non-essential contact with each other, it is extremely unlikely that our pets could pose any risk to us.
The information used to create this article is based on information from the CDC information on COVID-19 and pets and from Dr. Scott Weese’s article “ COVID-19: What We Don’t Know(But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something)”.