The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020.
Meaning; it [Covid-19] has reached most (if not every) part of the world and on its path, it’s killing hundreds and thousands of people.
But can the virus affect our beloved pets? unlikely. No clear link has been found that Covid-19 can be transmitted from humans to animals.
However, two cases of pets potentially having the virus have been reported.
Below we go into more depth on the virus, and what we know to date regarding the passing of Covid19 to our beloved furry friends.
What is Covid-19
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that make humans feel unwell with runny noses, fever, cough amongst other symptoms (the viruses that give us colds are part of this group).
Covid-19 belongs to the Coronavirus family. It is a new virus believed to have originated in a wet market in China.
While some coronavirus’ cannot be transmitted from humans to animals, or from animals to humans; others such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) can be transmitted from animals to humans.
At this point, it is unknown whether Covid-19 was being carried by an animal in the live animal market allowing the transfer of the virus to a human host, or whether the virus was in a human host that came into contact with many people during the market causing the outbreak.
While it is clear that Covid-19 affects human health, what is less clear is if it is affecting our beloved pets.
Can Pets Get The Coronavirus Disease
At this point, there is no evidence to believe that Covid-19 can be transmitted to your pet. However, the research on this is minimum and there is confusing information out there.
To date, there are two reported cases of dogs that have tested ‘weak positive’ for Covid-19.
A 17-year-old Pomeranian in China, and a German Shepard in Hong Kong. Both dogs were in close contact with infected humans, but both dogs also lived with other dogs that tested negative.
In addition, the tests for both dogs were reported as “weak positive”; meaning the dogs also tested negative on several occasions.
Some sources report that while the virus was in the dog’s noses, it may have been deposited there when the infected humans were shedding large quantities of Covid19.
Other sources report that the German Shepard was still showing weak positive results 8 days after the dog was removed from the home where the person was sick. Showing that the dog had a mild dose of the disease.
Whether the dogs were simply carrying the virus on their noses and mouth, or whether they were actually infected is unknown. However, neither of the dogs were reported to have experienced any of the symptoms we have come to see with Covid-19 patients.
Furthermore, the Veterinary testing service IDEXX announced on March 13, 2020, that in Hong Kong thousands of dogs and cats had been tested for the Covid19 virus and had no positive results. While this is great news, they also stated that the specimens for the dogs and cats came from other animal health practices, and thus could not confirm if this was obtained from animals that had been in contact with Covid19 patients, or they were from random animals.
The College Of Veterinary Medicine For Illinois reports that all the pets in Hong Kong that have been in contact with infected people, have been put under quarantine for 14 days and no other case has been reported.
The WHO has also stated that there is no evidence that any pet can transmit Covid-19.
So, for now, there is no evidence that your pet can be infected.
Should I Have Contact With My Pet If I Have The Coronavirus Disease?
Avoid doing so if you can. Very little is known of the disease and how it may affect our furry friends. Although unlikely that they get affected, it is still provable until we know better.
Furthermore, the virus (Covid-19) can live on many surfaces for a prolonged period of time. Sure it lives longer on hard surfaces, such as glass and metal, than on soft surfaces, such as fur or skin. But nevertheless, your pet may become a carrier affecting others.
How you may ask? Well, If you sneeze or cough close to your dog, the virus may get deposited on the fur or skin either airborne or when you pet them. The virus may then get transferred to other members of the public or your family.
So, if you can have your pet removed from the household as soon as you start showing signs you have Covid19, all the better for everyone involved. If however, this is not possible don’t panic.
Simply ensure you use good hygiene around your pet and quarantine yourself with them until you have recovered:
- Wash your hands after handling them, their food, waste, or supplies.
- Practice good pet hygiene and clean up after them properly.
- Use a facemask when dealing with your pet.
- Keep an eye on your pet. If your pet starts to feel lethargic or has difficulties breathing, talk to your veterinarian immediately. Please ensure this is done over the phone and you must be honest with them. Tell them you are suffering from Covid19, it is the only way they’ll know what they need to do with your pet.
Does My Pet Need To Wear A Face Mask
No, they don’t. Face masks can be distressing for pets and may reduce their ability to bread normally. If you are concerned about your pet, don’t be. No evidence shows that your pet is at risk.
But to prevent your dog from carrying the virus to others in their fur or skin, ensure you wash your hands well every time you handle them.
Is Hand Sanitizer Dangerous For My Pet?
The People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals (PDSA) suggests that the ingredients of hand sanitizers are not dangerous to dogs or any other pets unless for any reason they take a whole bottle.
If it is just in your hands your pet is not at risk of getting unwell from it.
So please use it if you need it. It is important we use hand sanitizer regularly if we don’t have access to water and soap as this will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 to other people.
To date, we have a huge number of cases worldwide of people infected with Covid19, but only 2 dogs have been reported to have had the virus.
Statistically speaking the chances of your pet catching the virus is very small from what it has been seen to date.
However, one thing is true; the virus can live for a period of time on surfaces such as your pet’s fur or skin. So if you are infected with Covid19, try and quarantine yourself from your pet as well as other humans. Even if they do not get infected or carry the virus internally, they can carry the virus in their fur and thus potentially contaminate other people.
It is an uncertain time for us all. But as long as we keep good hygiene we can protect ourselves, our family and our beloved pets.
Stay Safe XXX