The other day, my good friend raised a very important question – could she unknowingly give the novel Corona virus to her cat?” Being an avid animal lover like myself, she was much more concerned about passing along the nasty viral infection to her pet than vice versa, although of course, it is equally worrying to think about humans catching the illness from our furry family members.
Nothing feels very normal at the moment, with media accounts of the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases increasing on a daily basis, and governments around the world scrambling to control the situation as best they can. During any crisis, rumor and myth can spread faster than a viral pandemic, and it is the vulnerable and voiceless who are most likely to suffer the ill-effects of misinformation and fear. Reports of family pets being abandoned due to a belief that they can make their owners sick with the novel Corona virus are a tragic example of how a lack of scientific facts can cause people to react in panic, rather than sensibly work on ways to protect their family members – including their furry companions.
Complicating matters, information on the virus is changing as researchers learn more about this new and potentially deadly infection. At first, it was believed that transmission between dogs and cats and humans was not possible, but the World Health Organization has now revised its position, stating that “currently, there is no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats have infected humans with COVID-19”.
When an illness spreads from one species to another such as animal to human, it is known as a zoonotic disease. While this sounds scary, it bears remembering that according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control), zoonotic diseases are very common, both in the United States and around the world. It is only during certain events such as the current pandemic, that people become acutely aware of the potential for zoonotic disease transmission, and unfortunately, confusion and panic can easily override common sense and calm.
Some of the confusion stems from a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong that tested weakly positive for the virus. The dog had no clinical symptoms, but had been living with owners who tested positive. While it is difficult to draw conclusions from a single case, the scientific community stands by current research that suggests that the possibility of the virus reproducing within the cells of our pets, is highly unlikely.
What does this mean for us and our beloved pets? Just as we are taking steps to protect ourselves and our family members, the same care should apply to our dogs and cats. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their furry family members, just to be on the safe side. You wouldn’t hug and kiss your loved ones with the symptoms of the flu; nor should you allow your dog to lick your face or your cat to snuggle up close and personal if you are feeling under the weather! While usually, nothing beats curling up in bed with our pets when we are sick, the rules have to change a bit during a pandemic, and the health of ALL our family members should be a priority.
Good hygiene including disinfecting surfaces and plenty of hand washing with soap and water is the best way to avoid passing the illness to others within the home. Any concerns regarding the health of our pets should be addressed to a veterinarian. Here at Loved at Last Dog Rescue, we want nothing more than to celebrate the health and happiness of all our rescue dogs and their wonderful families! Our pets provide us with unconditional love and keep us entertained with their endearing antics. They are our fur babies! As their caretakers, we owe them nothing less than our complete devotion to their health and well-being.
Ending on a positive note – social distancing from humans means that some of us will get to spend more time with our dogs!
Written by Anne Parry. References and links to more detailed information listed below.