In relation to COVID-19 and pets – especially dogs and cats, there is a current concern whether or not animals can get infected with the coronavirus, COVID-19, and whether or not the viruses can be passed from humans to animals and vice versa. We have researched the latest information regarding COVID-19 and pets for your benefit.
What is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses make up a vast array of viruses that can infect dogs, cats, birds and mammals, including humans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Of the many different types of Coronavirus a few have been very concerning due to the ease in spreading and mortality rates. Coronaviruses have been responsible for several outbreaks around the world, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic in 2002 and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in South Korea in 2015. Currently, a new or novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19) triggered the ongoing pandemic affecting the world right now and is causing great international concern.
Dogs can get a Canine Coronavirus (CCoV). CCoV is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. Humans can not get CCoV. However, CCoV is a highly infectious virus amongst dogs, usually with puppies. This virus is usually responsible for a mild infection restricted to the intestinal tract causing diarrhea. CCoV vaccines are available. The vaccine is not recommended for all dogs and is administered by a veterinarian based on a dog’s lifestyle and an assessment of risk factors. This vaccine only works for the CCoV type of coronavirus. It is not effective for the prevention of COVID-19.
Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) is a common viral infection in cats. FCoV is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. Humans can not get FCoV either. FCoV generally causes asymptomatic infection but can sometimes cause mild diarrhea. Most cats infected with an FCoV eliminate the virus following the infection, but other cats may develop a persistent infection. These cats generally show no symptoms but can spread large amounts of the virus in their feces, and serve as a continual source of infection for other cats in the environment. There is currently only one vaccine available for FCoV, and this vaccine is ineffective against COVID-19.
COVID-19 and Pets
The cases of sick tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York shows cats can catch COVID-19, but there is no evidence yet that they can pass it to humans. Scientific research findings support earlier studies that pet cats, and even some dogs, can host the COVID-19 disease. These studies, however, said cats and dogs cannot pass the new coronavirus to humans, even if they can test positive for low levels if they catch it from their owners.
Experts say it’s important to know that cases of pets acquiring COVID-19 are extremely rare. In the world, as of April 28, 2020, there are only three confirmed cases of domestic cats (and two confirmed cases of dogs) getting sick from COVID-19. “This is almost exclusively a human-to-human transmitted disease,” Michael San Filippo, a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medicine Association, told NBC. “The risk to pets is very low, with only a handful of cases of the virus appearing in companion animals, and no cases of people getting sick from their pets.”
Up-to-date information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding COVID-19 and pets can be found here.
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