Our Pets, SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

Our pets are very important in our lives as they provide companionship and an excuse to get out of the house to exercise and go for a walk. There has been lots of news over the last several weeks and updates constantly regarding COVID-19. Every day is different. The information you read here today may be different in time, but as it stands, I would like to share information about you and your pets.

To start, it is important to know the facts. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus and COVID-19, the disease associated with the virus. What we know currently is that people can be carriers of the virus and can pass the virus on to other people. Some people may get COVID-19 if infected by SARS-CoV-2. Up until now, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus (SARS-CoV-2) to humans or to other animals. Many pets have been tested through IDEXX Laboratories for SARS-Cov-2, and none of these pets were infected with the virus. (Source: www.hemopet.org/virus-causing-covid-19-humans-and-current-situation-pets/

More recent COVID-19 news takes us to the US where tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for the virus. The zoo reports the tigers are doing okay at this time and are expected to recover. A zoo employee who was not showing symptoms at the time is the likely reason the tigers were infected. Agriculture authorities in Hong Kong stated pets could not transmit the virus to a human, but could test positive if they were in contact with an owner that was infected. CTV reports “The American Veterinary Medical Association and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been recommending that out of an abundance of caution, people ill with the coronavirus should limit contact with animals — advice that the veterinary group reiterated after learning of the tiger’s test result.” (Source: https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/tiger-tests-positive-for-coronavirus-at-the-bronx-zoo-1.4883488

If you become ill, have another family member in the household take care of the pet. If there is not someone in the household who can take care of your pet, it is recommended that a mask be worn, wash hands before, as well as after touching or being close to your pet. And when it comes to your dog or cat – no food sharing, hugging or letting them lick you (as difficult as that is). 

There comes a time when you need to go out to buy supplies, and more specifically pet supplies. The best thing is to have two weeks of food and any other necessary supplies on hand for your pet during this stay at home time. Remember that all pet owners are in the same boat right now, so limit what you purchase and refrain from hoarding supplies. The next point is important. Unless for some reason the pet cannot be cared for properly, the pet should not be removed from the home. 

Exercise is as essential for humans as it is for pets. We all need our fresh air during COVID-19, so just remember to keep safety in mind. At this time, it is okay to take your dog for a walk but just be safe and keep in mind that you should be practicing physical distancing by avoiding groups of people and eliminating pet interactions. Physical activity is important for you and your pet, but not social activity. (Source: www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/what-pet-owners-need-to-know-about-covid-19-1.4866596

There have been concerns raised about contracting the virus via your pets fur. The American Veterinary Medical Association say that porous material, such as pet fur, traps viruses and therefore makes it more difficult for humans to become infected through contact. (Source: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/can-dogs-get-coronavirus/).

Remember it is always recommended to wash your hands or use sanitizer after contact with your pet. Keep in mind that most hand sanitizers contain the ingredient ethanol which is toxic to pets if ingested. (Source: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/hand-sanitizer-ethanol/) They can lick it off your hands, but it also lingers on their coat after being pet which they may lick while grooming themselves, so it is recommended to wash your hands whenever possible. Stay healthy and safe.

March 29, 2021 Update

Whole Dog Journal has written an update on how Covid-19 effects pets.

Emerging Variants of Coronavirus May Affect Pets More Severely

Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?