We are living in an unprecedented situation that most people have never experienced. Many local and federal governments have called for citizens to shelter at home.
While most people are concerned about person-to-person transmission, what about our pets? Can your dog get COVID-19? What about other companion pets? Can they spread the disease?
With so much conflicting information out there, it’s not easy to know what is right. Today we take a look at what our healthcare professionals can tell us about our pets and COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a kind of newly discovered coronavirus. Because it was recently discovered, scientists and healthcare workers are still learning information about it. There are some things they do know already.
According to the World Health Organization, most people who contract this novel coronavirus “will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special medical treatment.” Those who have a compromised immune system, are older, or have other underlying health issues are more at risk for complications.
How is COVID-19 Transmitted?
The Center for Disease Control says that COVID-19 is a disease that spreads from person to person. This means that it can spread from close contact with another person. COVID-19 can also spread through respiratory droplets. These droplets are produced when someone sneezes or coughs. When these droplets are produced, another person can inhale them and become infected.
COVID-19 can also survive on surfaces for varying amounts of time, depending on the material. This means you can become infected if you touch a contaminated surface and touch your face. This is one of the reasons most health organizations recommend washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer.
It’s also important to note that a person can spread the disease without having symptoms, as well. Though, it is thought that someone exhibiting symptoms is more likely to spread COVID-19. Keeping yourself clean and out of contact with the virus is the best way to avoid getting it.
Can Your Dog Get COVID-19?
With how new this virus is, we can sometimes hear conflicting information about how sick you may get or who can catch it. Some media outlets have stated that animals have had confirmed cases while others say they cannot. So can your dog get COVID-19?
The most likely answer is no. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no reports have been made regarding animals catching COVID-19. They state that there is no evidence that companion animals, livestock, or other wildlife have been infected. Thus, your dog or cat cannot “catch” the disease and spread it to you. That said, if an infected person touches your pet, the infection can ride your pet and infect other people. The virus can live on surfaces, and your cat or dog can be that surface. They will not get infected, but they can spread the disease.
Again, all major health organizations recommend thoroughly washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub to help slow the spread of the disease.
There have been reports of animals getting infected by COVID-19. A cat in Belgium and two dogs in China were thought to be infected. The infected cat was thought to have been infected in Italy and had diarrhea, vomiting and respiratory issues. The cat did recover nine days later.
As for the two dogs that were infected, one was a two-year-old German Shepherd, and the other was a 17-year-old Pomeranian. The Pomeranian tested weakly positive for the infection and did die later, though the exact cause was not known, and the owner refused an autopsy. The German Shepherd tested positive but showed no symptoms.
How Can I Protect My Pet and Myself from COVID-19?
There are simple ways you can help protect you and your loved ones from the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends these steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Do not come into contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and immediately throw it away. Do not keep used tissues in your pocket.
- Voluntary home isolation can help slow the spread of the disease.
Remember to practice the recommendations from our local, federal and international healthcare organizations, and you shouldn’t have to worry about your pets.