Many people have recently become aware of a family of viruses called Coronaviridae. These viruses have caused dangerous human and animal diseases including pandemic COVID-19, also known as SARS-CoV-2. Virologists agree that this virus has originated from an animal source, but the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have all stated that “dogs and cats are not a source of infection”. There was a single case of a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong on March 1, 2020, who tested positive for COVID-19. Further testing concluded that this was the result of human-to-dog transmission. The dog involved never became ill and was not a source of infection. No case of COVID-19 infecting cats has ever been identified.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the CDC, OIE and WHO have created the following guidelines:
- When handling and caring for animals, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing before and after being around animals, their food or supplies as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.
- When possible, people who are sick or under medical attention for COVID-19 should avoid close contact with pets and have another member of the household care for their animals. If you are sick and must look after a pet, maintain good hygiene practices and wear a mask if possible.
- Restrict contact with animals, just like you would when interacting with other people.
What to do if you have a sick animal?
COVID-19 is not thought to affect pets, but pets can still become ill for a variety of other reasons. In an effort to safely provide for the needs of our pets, you may be asked to call prior to coming into a veterinary clinic and to wait outside once you have arrived. This will allow us to address your animal health concerns without increasing the risk of human-to-human COVID-19 transmission. If we already have a current existing relationship with your pet, we may be able to offer medical advice over the telephone (telemedicine).
Why is my dog/cat coughing?
Coughing is a clinical sign of tracheal irritation that can be caused by a large number of infectious, parasitic, cardiovascular, allergic and cancer related reasons. If your dog or cat is coughing, it is not likely related to COVID-19, but it could still be a cause for concern. Most causes of coughing can be successfully treated if diagnosed by your veterinarian.
Some personal thoughts on COVID for pet owners
Pets depend on us for their happiness and longevity. They also supply a much needed source of comfort and stress relief during difficult times. At the World of Animals, keeping your pet healthy remains our constant goal. Please help us with this goal by looking after your own needs and frequently referring to updated local, national (AVMA, CDC), and international (OIE, WHO) guidelines for information on COVID-19 and other transmissible diseases. Most diseases of animals can be prevented, mitigated or treated with the help of trained veterinary health professionals. These animal illnesses remain a cause of distress and discomfort for our trusted companions, even if they do not directly cause problems for humans.