COVID-19 and Pets– What Does it Mean for Our Fur Babies?
Coronavirus has been a huge issue around the globe for over a year now, with infection rates still high in many countries. Covid-19 is the strain currently having the largest impact. It comes from a large family of cold-like illnesses that have been around for years. Some strains of the virus cause illness in people, while others can present in animals. Here at healthyfoodforpets.com, we have gathered together answers to the most common questions about Covid-19. We hope that this information will help you to understand how Covid-19 affects pets.
Can my pet catch COVID-19?
Recent studies by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified cases of the virus that causes Covid-19 in a few kinds of pets, including cats and dogs. Generally, they found these cases in pets who were in close contact with contagious humans infected with the virus.
A study by Nature found that some cats and dogs living in houses with coronavirus-positive humans developed antibodies to the virus. Antibodies provide evidence the pets were infected with the virus at some point.
Do pets have the same COVID symptoms that humans experience?
Each species of pet experience different symptoms as they react differently to the virus. Early studies have shown that cats are more likely to become symptomatic than dogs.
Felines were also able to transmit the coronavirus infection to other cats. So if you have multiple animals, this may be worth noting.
Can animals transmit the virus to humans?
The current Covid-19 pandemic we are facing is likely to have spread from animal to human. The transmission continued with human-to-human spread. There are currently no documented cases of pets, such as dogs or cats spreading the virus to humans. The Center for Disease Control confirms this and considers the risk of transmission to be low. But keep in mind that research on Covid-19 and pets is limited.
Although there isn’t evidence of pets spreading the virus to humans, the mink is suspected of passing Covid-19 on to humans. In the Netherlands, a study looked at 16 mink farms. They found that over two-thirds of workers had a coronavirus infection. Genetic testing suggested that some contacted the virus from the minks. The study did note; however, that we need more research in this area to further substantiate results.
In August 2020, two mink farms in Utah were affected by the virus. However, this time there was no evidence that it passed on to humans.
Even though there’s a low risk of pets passing on the virus to humans, it’s important to practice healthy habits. These promote good pet hygiene so that pets don’t pass on other diseases that could also be harmful to humans, especially young children, older people, or those with weakened immune systems.
How do I protect my pet from COVID-19?
To help protect your pet from catching Covid-19 in the first place, below is a list of helpful tips to minimize your canine or feline’s risk of exposure to the virus.
This is especially important as, at this time, there is no vaccine for animals protecting against Covid-19. Domestic animals are vaccinated against other types of coronavirus. But these are different strains from Covid-19. So these vaccines will not be effective against Covid-19.
Top tips on how to protect your pet from Covid-19:
- Avoid public places where many people and animals gather, such as dog parks. While you will still need to walk your dog, walk in a quiet area on a leash and keep your dog 6 feet away from other pets.
- If you have cats that like roaming outdoors out of your eyesight, try to keep them indoors when possible. This limits their contact with other humans or other cats who may be covid-positive.
- Masks can help protect humans from the Covid-19 virus But do not put a mask on your pet, even masks marketed for pets. Masks could do more harm than good and can cause irritation and breathing difficulties.
- Any animal or human infected with a virus such as Covid-19 will be more likely to fight it and recover if they are healthy and have a good immune system. Therefore, ensuring that pets eat a healthy diet gives them a head start in fighting any type of virus and other health issues. It’s also a good idea to give supplements that ensure your pets receive all the nutrition needed for a healthy immune system.
- Protect your pet’s indoor environment. We recently discovered an air purification system that uses NASA technology, ActivePure. It was developed for, and used on, the Space Station. When tested by a military level, FDA Certified Lab, they found it eliminates 99.96% of SarsCov-2 (aka Covid19) viruses in the air in just 3 minutes. Plus, it gets rid of 99.98% of viruses on surfaces in 7 hours.No other air purifying systems come close to what this system can do. Other systems use passive technology. They basically sit somewhere and try to draw contaminants to them. Viruses, bacteria, mold, etc. must physically pass through the filter or system in order for them to be eliminated. So they only remove a fraction of the contaminants in the air. In contrast, ActivePure technology is active. It works like the sun, going out into the environment with a purifying plasma just like the atmosphere of the earth. This amazing technology moves about 1,200 feet per second, just like popcorn smells. It quickly neutralizes pollutants and contaminants in places that other technologies and filtration systems can’t reach.
Following these tips will limit the chances of your pet contracting the disease.
Can my pet get tested for COVID?
It is possible to test your pet for Covid-19. But many organizations such as the USDA and the CDC state that this is not necessary, and they are not recommending it. The Diagnostic Veterinary Laboratory, which is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine, does have the ability to test for this new strain of coronavirus. They have been testing since around March 2020. However, these tests are not commonly used.
In order to access a test like this, a veterinarian must request it, and he/she needs to include a good reason for the test. The state animal health officer and the state public health vet will then look at the request and choose whether to approve or reject it.
What if I’m sick and my pet is too?
If you suspect that you have Covid-19, or tests confirm the diagnosis, you should restrict contact with other people, as well as your pets to minimize any risk to them. Although there have been few pet cases, there have been some, so it is better to be safe.
Here are our top tips on how to deal with your pet while you are contagious:
- We understand that your pet still needs to be cared for. So if you can, ask another household member to take over all caring responsibilities until you feel better.
- Do not come into close contact with your pet – this includes petting and cuddling them or sleeping in the same bed. This will help minimize the transmission risk.
- If there is no one else to care for your pet, wash your hands before you interact with them. Also, try to wear gloves to keep anything you are handing them free from the virus. If you believe that your pet has also contracted the Covid-19 virus, do not take them to the vet while you are still contagious. Call your veterinarian and explain that you are ill and you believe that your pet might be as well. They may be able to offer advice over the phone or work out a way to see your animal without coming into contact with you.
- Once a vet has seen your pet, they will be able to confirm whether it has been infected and determine the next steps in your loved one’s care. If you have a Covid positive animal, it is important to treat them the same way as you would a Covid positive human. While there is no evidence that a cat or dog can pass the virus back to humans, keep in mind that there have been few studies on the topic.
- Keep your animal inside as much as possible, away from other household members, including other pets. Make sure that you wear gloves when coming into contact with your pet or anything that it touches, such as bedding and food dishes. Although you may want to make sure that your house is clean, be careful with the type of disinfectant you are using to wipe surfaces, ensuring that it is not harmful to animals.
- Most importantly, try not to worry too much. The small number of dogs and cats that contracted the virus had mild symptoms or none at all, and all recovered well from the virus.
Take Away Knowledge:
In conclusion, there have not been many studies on Covid-19 and pets. The completed studies; however, show that only a small number of pets have contracted the virus from humans. So there is a low risk of transmission.
If your beloved pet does test positive, or you believe they might have it, treat them like you would a family member, isolating them where possible.
As the Covid-19 pandemic is rapidly changing, information on this topic may change. So it’s important to keep an eye out for any new updates. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, contact your veterinarian and ask them for advice.
“COVID-19 and Animals”
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
March 25, 2021
William F. Marshall, III M.D.
“COVID-19 and pets: Can dogs and cats get coronavirus?”
June 10, 2020
“SARS-CoV-2 in animals”
American Veterinary Medical Association
March 2, 2021
“Helpful Questions and Answers about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Pets”
US Food and Drug Administration
January 7, 2021