The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has been on all of our minds lately and has turned most of our lives upside down.  As it is a new strain of a virus, there is limited information and new things are being learned as new information comes to light. The newest release from the CDC suggested our pets could be susceptible to the virus and this is causing a lot of fear and anxiety among pet owners and we need to address link between humans and pets and the risk of our pets getting COVID-19. Here are some of the facts regarding our beloved pets.

While the CDC does report it has seen a few cases of covid-19 in pets, it also states:

  • Some coronaviruses that infect animals can sometimes be spread to humans and then spread between people, but this is rare.
  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be very low.
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking. Recent studies show that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC as well as the AVMA states that there is still much to learn about the virus. However, as you will see from the above, even with the new information released, the chances of our pets spreading covid-19 or becoming ill is “rare” and “considered to be low.”  According to the AVMA article SARS-CoV-2 in animals “At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong, government officials with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) recommended that mammalian pets, including dogs and cats, from households with persons hospitalized because of COVID-19 should be cared for in quarantine and tested for infection with SARS-CoV-2. As of April 15, 30 dogs, 17 cats, and 2 hamsters have been held at the AFCD quarantine facility. However, only two dogs and one cat have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. None of the animals in quarantine, including the three positive animals, developed clinical signs of respiratory disease, and at least six animals have been released from quarantine, including both dogs that tested positive.”

As of this writing, there are currently 1.21 million confirmed cases of covid-19 among humans in the United States, meaning the ratio of human to animals is miniscule. If pets were as susceptible as humans, those numbers would be much closer in relation to confirmed cases.

The article Serological Prevalence Of Canine Respiratory Coronavirus refers to canine types of coronavirus and pet immunology. “Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) has recently been detected in dogs; it is a group 2 coronavirus showing similarity to bovine coronavirus (BCoV) but is distinct from canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV). CRCoV may play an important role in canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) either by predisposing to further and potentially more serious viral and bacterial infections or possibly as a primary pathogen. The prevalence of serum antibodies to CRCoV, in a population of dogs in the south east of England, has been shown previously to be 30.1% on the first day of entry to a rehoming kennel. The purpose of this study was to establish the prevalence of CRCoV in the general canine population within as well as outside the UK. An ELISA, used to test for the presence of antibodies to CRCoV in canine serum samples, identified seropositive dogs in UK, USA, Canada, Republic of Ireland and Greece. The development of an ELISA based on CRCoV antigen and immunofluorescence assay are described here. 54.7% (547/1000) of North American and 36.0% (297/824) of United Kingdom dogs were seropositive for CRCoV. The age and geographical distribution of seropositive dogs was also assessed. The cross-reactivity demonstrated between CRCoV antibodies from different countries and a UK viral isolate suggests immunological similarity.”

Social media rumors have claims circulating about a coronavirus vaccine for pets for COVID-19 since 2001. However, this rumor is false.

The article Canine Coronavirus Disease by Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH and Ernest Ward, DVM clearly state "Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)."

“Canine coronavirus disease, known as CCoV, is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies. Canine coronavirus is usually short-lived but may cause considerable abdominal discomfort for a few days in infected dogs. The virus is from the Coronaviridae family. The virus gets its name from the fact that when viewed from above under an electron microscope, the virus has a ring of projections that appear like a coronet, or a small crown made of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. There are many types of coronavirus, each affecting different animal species, including humans.”

"Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). CCoV does not affect people. CCoV causes gastrointestinal problems in dogs, as opposed to respiratory disease."

"Canine coronavirus vaccines are available. This vaccine is not recommended for all dogs and will be administered based on your dog's lifestyle and risk assessment. This vaccine will only work for the CCoV type of coronavirus. It is not effective for the prevention of COVID-19.”

Another assuring piece of information is virus have a much shorter life span on porous surfaces, such as a pet's fur.  Our pet's fur also has natural oils and chemicals from medications, heartworm preventive and flea and tick treatment, making their fur inhospitable to viruses.

World Organization for Animal Health says, “Currently, there is no evidence that animals are playing a significant epidemiological role in the spread of human infections with SARS-CoV-2. However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases (known as zoonotic diseases), it is still recommended that people who are suspected or confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 limit contact with animals.”

Remember, covid-19 is passed through respiratory droplets and salvia. There are ways to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, such as

  • Wash your hands after you pet them, feed them, or handle their waste.
  • Limit your pet licking on your face
  • If your pet licks you, wash that part of you right away whether hands, arms
  • Get rid of their poop, whether it's in the house, yard, or another public spot.
  • When your pet comes in from outside, wipe their paws
  • Clean their food and water bowls, bedding, and toys regularly.

The CDC's Stay Healthy Around Pets says,” Whether you are playing with, feeding, or cleaning up after your pet, it is important to wash your hands to help reduce the risk of getting sick from germs pets can carry.”

Always wash hands:

  • After touching or playing with your pet
  • After feeding your pet or handling pet food
  • After handling pet habitats or equipment (cages, tanks, toys, food and water dishes, etc.)
  • After cleaning up after pets
  • After leaving areas where animals live (coops, barns, stalls, etc.), even if you did not touch an animal
  • Before eating and drinking
  • Before preparing food or drinks
  • After removing soiled clothes or shoes

·        Running water and soap are best for hand washing, but you can use hand sanitizer until running water and soap are available.

If you are utilizing a Professional Pet Care Specialist, please make sure they are using masks and gloves and sanitizing between visits or using disposable masks and changing between clients, only using your pet's personal leashes, collars and harnesses, they are washing hands or hand sanitizing between clients.

We are making every effort to stay on top of all research and new information in regards to covid-19 and our pets. Please continue to watch our page for any updates. 

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