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Questions About Coronavirus and Pets

Some pet dangers are obvious. Some take a bit of thought to anticipate but can still represent a threat.
With news aboQuestions about Coronavirus and Pets

With news about cornavirus seemingly changing daily, it’s not surprising that some information about our pets has changed, too.

One finding is that, yes, your pet may be able to contract and spread COVID-19, the disease brought by cornavirus.

At the time of this writing, cats seem to be the most likely victims. A report in Nature noted that cats can be infected with coronavirus and a big cat – a tiger – tested positive in the United States. Two dogs were reportedly infected in China.

Based on this, researchers have concluded that some pets are susceptible to the infection, but their owners should be cautious but not alarmed at present. The results are based on lab experiments with a very limited number of animals and high doses, along with anecdotal information.

Currently, there is no evidence cats can pass he virus to people. The reports also indicate none of the animals showed symptoms of the illness. One pet that appears to be highly susceptible to COVID-19 infection is ferrets.

Not Likely

Overall, it appears at this time that most pets are not easily infected with the virus and the danger of transmission to humans is very small, especially compared to the risk of human-to-human contagion.

That doesn’t mean pet owners should proceed with “business as usual.” Most experts agree that pet owners should be even more conscious of good hygiene behaviors like washing their hands before and after handling a pet, pet food or other supplies. Avoid kissing pets as well. And, if you have a pet that foes outdoors, this is a good time to avoid or minimize that potential exposure.

A key question involves a pet or pets in a home with more than one person, where one is known or suspected of being infected with the virus while other family members or residents are not. In that case, the person with COVID-19 should be quarantined as much as possible, staying in another part of the home and having as little contact with others as possible – including the pet. This would hopefully protect the pet as well as others in the home.

Other Thoughts

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stresses that all current evidence shows the COVID-19 spreads mostly from person to person during relatively close contact. They noted there is currently no evidence that companion animals can spread the virus to people (see more https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html).

As with other sources, the CDC urges people to practice good hygiene, including around all animals. “In the United States, there is no evidence to suggest that any animals, including pets, livestock, or wildlife, might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time,” they note. “However, because all animals can carry germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.”

We would add that your home should have supplies that include first aid for both you and your pets. This is not a good time to be forced to visit a doctor, hospital or veterinarian if it's at all possible to avoid such exposure.