When it comes to coronavirus and pets, people are asking questions. Read on for answers and resources.
Coronavirus has taken over our jobs, our schedules, and our discussions. Inevitably, the spread of the virus has also impacted our relationship with our precious four-legged friends.
The topic of pets and coronavirus focuses on two different questions. The first, not surprisingly, is "Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?"
The second question swirling during coronavirus quarantine uses the same words but arranges them differently, "Can I get a pet during COVID-19?"
While pets are the perfect quarantine comfort, fear about contracting from or spreading to our animals creates anxiety in pet owners.
As I write this, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 tiger have tested positive for COVID-19. The dogs and one cat were both in Hong Kong. The other cat tested positive in Belgium.
In each of these cases, the owners were infected with COVID-19 and quarantined. Hong Kong has a policy of testing animals of those pet owners who test positive.
Interestingly, the other animals in the Hong Kong household tested negative. These animals were all asymptomatic of the new coronavirus.
The cat who tested positive in Belgium was symptomatic, but this diagnosis has divided the Veterinarian community as to what this could mean.
The cat owner took the test sample and was not a professional of Veterinary Medicine. There is some thought that it could have been a contaminated sample and the symptoms of vomiting are related to another illness.
Just this week a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the coronavirus. This created more anxiety about the virus going beyond human-to-human transmission. The tiger was tested after exhibiting the symptom of a dry cough.
Interestingly, Veterinarians are still hesitant to speculate about the risk of the virus passing from animals to humans. Further, the cats sharing the enclosure with the infected tiger have not exhibited any symptoms.
Veterinary Medicine Professionals explain that the cell receptor on human cells that contracts the virus is very similar to that on cat cells. (It is also similar to the cell receptor on the ferret.) But, it is most likely that these animals are what is called "dead-end hosts." They can contract the virus, but they cannot spread the virus to companions, animals, or humans.
Additionally, looking at the number of animals testing positive (5) versus the number of humans (1.3 million) the concern continues to be person-to-person transmission.
Studies are underway to examine the responses of different animal species to the novel coronavirus. Currently, the World Health Organization for Animal Health and the CDC do not credit animals in playing a role in the spread of the pandemic.
Though there seems to be a low risk of animal transmission, hygiene remains a high priority. Be sure to wash your hands frequently after petting an animal. In addition, be sure to keep animals and their bowls clean. Contact your vet should your animal show any sign of illness.
If we are not concerned with our pets being an animal source of coronavirus, is now the time to get a new one? Animal shelters are seeing record rates of adoption from those looking to rescue and gain a new companion.
Experts offer caution. Working from home is a great opportunity to bond with a new pet. But before you adopt, make sure you will be able to care for that animal when you resume a more normal routine. Shelters worry that there will be an influx of animals returned once businesses reopen and pet owners must spend time out of the house again.
Further, be aware that your dog or cat will grow accustomed to plenty of close contact. A quarantine companion animal will likely be a lonely pet once a social distancing relaxes and have adjustment time. Veterinarians also urge dog-owners and other pet owners to be sure to have proper pet supplies in case they contract the virus.
You need to be prepared to quarantine without shopping for food or accessing pet medication in the event that you become ill during the coronavirus outbreak. Also, be sure to have your supplies accessible for another person to provide care in your absence.
Our pets provide comfort and consistency during this turbulent time. Always reach out to your Vet if you have any questions or concerns. Let's be wise in how we continue to care for them and our families during this season.