As worry over the new coronavirus (i.e., COVID-19) spreads, along with the disease itself, you are likely trying to sort through misinformation and inaccurate reports of how COVID-19 is transmitted, whether your pet is at risk, or if your pet can infect you. Read our pet owner’s guide to COVID-19 to clear up any confusion you may have about this disease.
Question: Can I get COVID-19 from my pet, or vice versa?
Answer: The short answer is no, as COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person contact. For example, an infected person coughs or sneezes near you, sending respiratory droplets into the air, which you then breathe in. Essentially, you’re breathing in virus particles, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends maintaining a distance of six feet or more from others. You can also become infected by touching contaminated surfaces that a sick person coughed or sneezed on, and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. Pets, with their porous fur, make a less-than-ideal vector for transmitting COVID-19, so if a sick person sneezes on a dog, you are unlikely to become ill, unless you immediately kiss or snuggle the pet.
Q: Is the coronavirus that pets can get the same as COVID-19?
A: Many animals can get coronavirus, including cats, dogs, birds, and pocket pets. Coronaviruses are mostly species-specific, and rarely jump to a different species. While COVID-19 is one of the rare cases that is thought to have come from bats, most coronaviruses cannot be transmitted between people and animals. Currently, there is no evidence indicating pets can become ill from COVID-19. In pets, we often see two canine coronavirus forms, and one feline form. Dogs can get an enteric form, which results in self-limiting diarrhea, or a respiratory form, which is often a culprit in kennel cough cases. Cats also get an enteric form, but it can mutate, and cause feline infectious peritonitis in rare cases.
Q: Does my pet need to be vaccinated against coronaviruses?
A: While vaccinations are available for canine and feline coronaviruses, they will not protect your pet against COVID-19, which is a human coronavirus with no vaccination yet available. In most cases, pets are no longer vaccinated for their particular coronaviruses, as the disease itself is often mild and self-limiting.
Q: Can I get my pet tested for COVID-19?
A: Currently, human and animal health officials do not recommend routine COVID-19 testing for pets. IDEXX, a major veterinary diagnostic company, has been testing thousands of cats and dogs for the virus, but has reported no positive results. These findings match the suspicions that COVID-19 is spread only through person-to-person contact. If you notice your pet showing respiratory illness signs, contact us for assistance.
Q: Since a dog tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong, is my pet at risk, too?
A: While it’s true a dog did test positive for COVID-19, the results were a weak positive, suggesting only a small amount of the virus was in the samples. During the dog’s time in quarantine, he showed zero illness signs, despite living with an ill owner and the positive COVID-19 test. At this time, multiple health organizations agree there is no evidence to indicate that pets can become ill with COVID-19, or act as an infection source. But, they do advise all pet owners to practice good hygiene around their pets, out of an abundance of caution, as we are still learning more about this disease.
Q: What if my pet becomes ill after being around someone with COVID-19?
A: If your pet displays any respiratory issues, such as coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing, contact us immediately. Ensure you provide detailed information, such as the date and time of your pet’s exposure to a person with COVID-19 and when the illness signs started, allowing us to take proper precautions.
Q: Where should I look for current, accurate COVID-19 information?
A: In addition to contacting us for the latest, most accurate information about your pet and COVID-19, you can monitor the following websites:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)
As always, the team at Holland Lake Animal Hospital is here for your pet’s health and well-being. With any questions about your furry friend’s care, or for current updates on COVID-19 and pets, contact us.