COVID-19 Coronavirus & Pets
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, sore throat and fever. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others are more likely to lead to pneumonia. They’re usually spread through direct contact with an infected person.
The coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface (“corona” in Latin translates to “crown”). The genus coronavirus is composed of at least three groups that cause mild to severe enteric, respiratory, or systemic disease. Other well-known coronaviruses are SARS and MERS.
Are there coronaviruses in animals?
Coronaviruses are common in several species of domestic and wild animals, including cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, camels, bats, and others.
Did this coronavirus spread from animals to humans?
Although not common, coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. Bats can be reservoir hosts for viruses which can cross species barriers to infect humans and other domestic and wild mammals.
In the last two major coronaviruses that were transmitted to humans, transmission occurred through intermediate hosts: the masked palm civet (SARS) and dromedary camels (MERS).
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV), now known officially as COVID-19 or Corona Virus Disease, is thought to have originated in bats and transmitted to humans through an intermediate animal host. Investigations are still ongoing.
Is my pet at risk from the COVID-19 coronavirus, or will my pet infect me?
According to the World Health Organzation, there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats have become ill with this virus or will become a source of infection of COVID-19 in other animals or humans.
In late February 2020, Hong Kong authorities quarantined a dog after samples from the dog’s nasal cavity and mouth tested “weak positive” for the virus. The dog’s owner had tested positive for COVID-19. The dog did not show signs of illness. Authorities believe it is a case of human to animal transmission but stress that it is not cause for alarm.
Thus dog was a 17year old Pomeranian and was returned to its owner having tested negative for coronavirus on two separate occasions. Sadly the dog has now died but the exact cause of death is not known and no post mortem has been carried out. At no point did the dog show any signs of respiratory disease associated with COVID-19.
It’s important to remember that viruses can sometimes infect a species but not cause illness in that species, nor become transmissible to others. Again, it is not believed that pets such as cats or dogs can pass COVID-19 to humans.
And, as far as realistic risk factors—if, for instance, your dog is usually at home and doesn’t contact other dogs or people and no one in your household has COVID-19, the odds that your pet would become infected are highly unlikely.
If you have COVID-19, you should restrict your contact with pets and other animals, just like you would with other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask as directed by your physician.
As a matter of everyday health, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets to help avoid transmission of more common illness-causing agents, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella and parainfluenza , which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.
Your vet can help you determine which vaccines your pet should have, based on its risk factors.
This is a fluid situation; we will update this page as events warrant.
Is there a vaccination against the COVID-19 coronavirus that my pet can receive?
Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines available for humans or animals. The World Health Organization estimates that a vaccine for humans could be available in 12-18 months.
How is this virus spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Should my pet wear a face mask when in public?
Masks made for pets may not be effective in preventing diseases transmitted by bodily fluid droplets. To protect your pet from respiratory diseases, vaccinate your pet for Bordetella and parainfluenza, which are the most common vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases in pets.
What is the best way to protect myself and my family (human and pet) from the COVID-19coronavirus?
Practical measures to protect yourself and your family from this or any other contagious respiratory illness include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Watch a video about the WHO’s recommended handwashing technique.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick or have a fever.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Maintain more personal space between you and other people than you might usually.
- Vaccinate your pets as recommended by your veterinarian.
- If you become ill with the COVID-19 coronavirus, please wear a well-fitted mask to help prevent the spread of the virus and limit contacts with other humans and your pets as recommended by your physician.