It all began when a dog in Hong Kong tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. Suddenly, pets started to feature in all coronavirus-related conversations, getting the alarm bells ringing that our furry friends might become a part of the novel coronavirus’s transmission chain.
However, to date, several questions remain unanswered.
From the fact sheet that was released by the concerned authorities in Hong Kong, it was revealed that the Pomeranian had a “low level” infection that was possibly a result of transmission from humans to animals. Experts have also advised putting pets – living with COVID-19-infected owners – under quarantine for the sake of public health.
Compiled below are essential questions – about the pandemic and your four-legged friend — answered by experts:
The virus only spreads from humans to humans. At this point, no research evinces human to animal transmission. Samples collected from the dog in Hong Kong had a negligible viral presence. With no other clinical symptoms of a disease, this did not reveal much.
However, dogs and cats are mammals as well, with the same receptors as humans. Theoretically speaking, the virus can attach itself to the receptors on the animal’s body; but there is no evidence to suggest that it can enter into the cells and multiply. That being said, owners infected with COVID-19 must stay away from pets.
Wash your hands thoroughly; don’t allow them to kiss or lick your face. That’s because should the virus be present in secretions and fluids; this is the only way it could be spread to your pet if there is any chance of transmission, that is.
That is not the top priority at this point, considering no research currently suggests any possibility of human to animal transmission. However, if there is any more case like the Pomeranian in Hong Kong, experts would consider this and do their due diligence.
Yes, they can serve as probable storehouses of the virus, but only if they end up getting infected. Fortunately, there has been no evidence to suggest anything along such lines as of now. In case they are infected, they would have to be dealt with in the way human carriers of the virus are being dealt with right now. Just like hospitals for us, vet healthcare facilities would need to prepare adequately for the situation.
In case the situation arises, pets would need to be put under quarantine at a dedicated healthcare facility. You can also approach a pet day-care facility or a shelter, for that matter. If your pet were to carry the novel virus but wasn’t sick, you can quarantine it at home as well. In that case, you should check your contact with them.
Wear a functional mask and wash your hands properly every time you enter into the room to give it food. Keep your furry friend in a place away from other members in the house.
Nothing can beat caution at this stage. Make sure you keep your pet away from all family members in case some have been quarantined.
You should not, for the sake of caution. As with general rules of social distancing, it is wise to limit all types of contact right now. Think about it this way: if people should not gather in groups, so shouldn’t pets.
Make sure to include your pets in any preparedness planning. In case you contract the virus and need to be quarantined, ensure you stock on at least two weeks of pet food. Also, don’t forget non-food essentials such as poop bags. Inform your neighbours about your condition, and keep them in the know of any specific instruction related to walking, feeding or medications of your pet.
It is good to be prepared beforehand.