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Pets and Coronavirus: FAQs for Owners

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3 Min Read

COVID-19 has proven to be an unprecedented pandemic, a humanitarian crisis. It has forced governments to announce blanket lockdowns on countries, affecting economies and sustenance of people. To make matters more complicated, the internet is awash with misinformation and rumours that don’t seem to settle down.

Whether pets can transmit the novel coronavirus or not remains one such topic of contention. Also, that is why we have listed some of the most pertinent questions with the attempt to throw light on this subject, help pet owners get clarity, and importantly, nip speculation in the bud. Read on to know more:

COVID-19: FAQs FOR PET OWNERS

Note: The information presented here stands up-to-date as of April 1, 2020.

1. Can dogs get COVID-19?

As of now, experts have maintained that it’s improbable. According to the World Health Organisation, no evidence currently can suggest that pets can get infected with the novel coronavirus. The CDC goes a step ahead and states that companion animals have no role to play in the transmission of the virus.

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2. If this is true, how has a dog tested positive in Hong Kong?

The canine patient came in contact with the owner infected with COVID-19, who, in all probability, was shedding the virus. It purportedly resulted in the virus getting lodged in the pet’s nose. The dog, a 17-year old Pomeranian, tested COVID-19 positive for over a week, thereby fueling speculation that it was already suffering from a minor infection that was likely due to human-to-animal transmission.

The dog was released from quarantine and died a few days later. Authorities believe that death was more likely to be related to other co-morbidity and not the virus.

As of date, experts continue to believe the risk of animal-to-human transmission to be negligible vis-à-vis human-to-human transmission.

3. But could pets serve as a conduit for the infection?

Unfortunately, yes. An infected pet-owner may contaminate the animal (through mucous or respiratory droplets released by coughing or sneezing). Then another individual touches the pet and gets infected with the virus. However, experts also consider the likelihood of such transmission to be negligible.

Nonetheless, like humans, animals that come in close contact with infected individuals should be isolated from other animals (that are quarantined) and people.

4. If I am infected with COVID-19, is there any particular precaution that I should take while trying to protect my pet?

To begin with, understand that your pet is at minimal risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. It follows that you need not take special precautions to protect the canine. However, it is also crucial to remember that should your pet always live amid a virus-infested environment; it could have the virus on it. That is how it can serve as a conduit for the infection.

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Therefore, the CDC recommends that you isolate and distance yourself from your pet, just like you’d distance yourself from people. Don’t let your pets snuggle up to you, or kiss and lick you for that matter. Limit interaction as much as possible. Wear a face mask and wash your hands thoroughly if you have to come close to the animal.

5. Is there a COVID-19 vaccine for pets (dogs and cats)?

At this point, there is no vaccination for COVID-19, neither pets nor humans.

6. Can my pet wear a face mask?

It should not. It doesn’t help to stop transmission. On the contrary, it may cause breathing difficulties.

7. My pet has become ill after coming in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19. What do I do?

Contact the vet before taking your dog to the clinic. Tell the vet about specific symptoms of your pet’s illness and that it had come in contact with a COVID-19 patient. Alerting the clinic authorities in advance will help them better prepare for the admittance of your dog and creating an isolation ward for it.

However, remember that there is no evidence currently to support that pets can become infected with the novel coronavirus nor any proof of animals being able to transmit the virus to human beings.

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