Contributed by – Healthians team
All of us are following the necessary steps to control the spread of the coronavirus. Starting with washing our hands often, not touching our face, staying at home, wearing masks whenever going out and limiting human-to-human contact, we are doing everything to stay safe and to keep those around us safe.
While we are focusing on our contact with humans, we need to give some attention to our furry friends as well. Some of us get in contact with a dog or a cat almost every other day in some way. You may have them as pets or you may feed and play with them in the streets and parks. Since the pandemic began, some cats and dogs have got infected with COVID-19 in some parts of the world. And very recently, news of two pet cats in New York testing positive surfaced the internet.
All of this may have left you wondering about human-to-animal and animal-to-human transmission of the virus. If you have a pet, then you may also worry about Covid-19 in pets and how Covid-19 affects cats and dogs. Here, we answer all such questions. So, read on and find out.
Can your pet get coronavirus?
Coronavirus infection in pets is rare but may occur. Pets who tested positive for the coronavirus got infected through their caregivers who tested COVID-19 positive later.
The first such case came from a zoo in New York City where a tiger showed symptoms of respiratory illness which later tested positive for the coronavirus. Later on, its caregiver tested positive. He had been asymptomatic and shedding the virus actively at the time of caring for the tiger. In other words, wherever pet dogs and cats were infected, their owners were coronavirus positive. In all these cases, infected owners passed the virus to the animals.
If a cat or dog gets infected, what symptoms would it show?
If your cat or dog develops signs of respiratory or gastrointestinal illness, it’s more likely to be a cat or dog disease. However, if anyone of the caregivers is coronavirus positive, then there’s a chance that the dog or cat may also be coronavirus positive if it develops similar signs within a few weeks of the diagnosis of the caregiver.
Can a dog or cat spread coronavirus?
As of now, there is no evidence that a cat or dog can spread coronavirus, especially to humans. The dog which tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong appeared to be shedding low levels of virus. While that can pose a risk to humans but researchers think it’s unlikely for coronavirus to jump species this way.
Are any particular types of pets at more risk than others to the coronavirus?
China conducted research on a small number of animals where they were exposed to high levels of SARS-CoV-2. In that research, it was concluded that cats were more susceptible to the virus than any other species.
However, the research was performed in a laboratory setting and was limited to very few animals of a particular breed and age. It doesn’t reflect the spread of the virus in a real-world setting.
If you are coronavirus positive, should you snuggle with your pet?
If you have coronavirus or are suspected to have it, then you should minimize your interactions with your pet. And even if you interact with it, wear a mask. But don’t allow your pet to sleep with you or lick you. You should also practice frequent hand washing. If possible, ask someone to take care of your pet. They too should wear a mask and practice frequent hand washing while doing so.
Should pets be tested for coronavirus?
Veterinarians can test your pet for coronavirus but since the risk is minimal, getting it tested is not advisable. Different chemicals are used to test cats and dogs for the coronavirus and the supply of those chemicals is hampered due to the lockdown of the countries. Only in cases where the caregiver of the pet has tested positive and the pet has developed symptoms weeks later, getting your pet tested for coronavirus would be appropriate.
Precautions on coronavirus and pets
- Do not let your pet interact with other people and animals outside of the household.
- Keep your pets indoors as much as possible.
- If taking them out for a walk, keep the leash short.
- Stay away from dog parks or any places where other animals visit.
- Sanitize the paws of your dog after returning home.
- If you’re feeding street cats and dogs maintain a distance with them and do not let them lick you.
- Do not pet street dogs or cats.
- Wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet.
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