Coronavirus and Your Pets – What you need to know 

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There has been a lot of information circulating in recent weeks regarding the coronavirus, and rightly so.

It has rapidly spread across the globe and is now a pandemic. 

I felt compelled to write this post because there are some pretty egregious articles being posted about animals and the coronavirus.  

Positive Canine Test – The Facts

A few weeks ago, there were reports of a dog that tested “weakly” positive for SARSCoV-2, and no one really knew what that meant.

Except that there were “small amounts of RNA present in the samples”, and that the test did not distinguish between RNA detected from intact virus and fragments of RNA

After careful observation and additional testing, we know that the animal was not harboring the virus, nor mounting an immune response to it

As of today, news and media outlets are reporting that the dog has now passed away, and to gain extra clicks on to their articles, they have titled them all to sound something like “first dog to test positive for coronavirus is now dead”.

What is your immediate thought to hearing that?

Mine was, “oh my gosh a dog died from COVID-19!”    THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. 

 Yes, read that again.  This dog was never infected with the human coronavirus, and there is currently no evidence that our animals can become infected or spread the disease.  

Why Should I Quarantine Myself from My Pets Then?

Isn’t this being over cautious? Yes. 

The precious pooch that has an erroneous positive test for coronavirus, was a 17-year-old Pomeranian who likely had other medical conditions that were responsible for its death, and remains to be unknown to the public.

We also need to consider the stress this poor dog endured while being in isolation, away from anything familiar to it, poked every day for testing purposesand was being kept away from it’s COVID-19 infected owner

Since the owner has declined a necropsy, we will never know the whole story. 

The importance of quarantining yourself even from your pets and not breathing on top of them, when you are sick is to protect your pets from possible future isolation and a barrage of testing. 

Animal Shelters

Our animal shelters within the United States are brimming with homeless animals right now.

With news and media outlets using such “catchy” article titles, I am concerned that people will start to believe that their pets really could cause them to get sick, or become ill themselves.

What do you think happens to animals when their owners are scared, confused, and worried about getting a serious illness that could potentially cause death?

You guessed it, they end up surrendered in animal shelters, or possibly even abandoned, left to figure life out on their own

Simple Truths

So let’s get some facts out there on the table because I want to empower all of you with science and facts 

  • Can my cat or dog become infected with COVID-19? NO  
  • Can my cat or dog be a carrier for COVID-19, or transfer it to humans? NO
  • Do cats and dogs have coronaviruses of their own? YES 
  • Are they respiratory diseases? NO 
  • Can humans catch any of the cat and dog coronaviruses? NO  

Up-to-Date Covid-19 Animal Information

The CDC and the AVMA update their information daily on the topic of animals, and whether or not they can become infected or spread the disease.

I encourage you to do your part and stay informed.

IDEXX, one of the largest veterinary laboratories in the world, has also evaluated thousands of samples from all over the world, and have seen zero (0) positives, in both cats and dogs. 

The CDC has issued the statement “At this point, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.” Please visit the link to read it for yourself.

Some key points I want you to take away from this post

  • If you are sick, please seek medical attention immediately!
  • At this time, you cannot catch COVID-19 from your pets, and your pets are not carriers for the virus. 
  • Limit your contact with humans and animals both if you are sick. 
  • WASH YOUR HANDS – correctly and frequently. 
  • Do not panic! We will get through this together! 

Homeless Pets Need Foster Homes 

On a personal note, during this time of crisis worldwide, I would like to extend an invitation for you to foster a cat or dog from your local shelter.

As we move forward, our shelters are going to be staffed with fewer people, all while still taking in homeless animals. 

I am also genuinely concerned that with the lack of folks being able to work due to quarantines, they will also deplete their own resources, leading to possible animal surrenders simply because their care cannot be afforded any longer.  

Let’s help reduce the curve and do it with the company of some foster fur-babies!  

Erica Unz, DVM

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