Pet safety during coronavirus is a big concern for everyone. As coronavirus rampages through the human population, it is having a profound effect on our pets. Just like people, animals have to observe social distancing rules, with dogs bearing the brunt of the measures.
Many owners, therefore, are rightly concerned about pet safety during coronavirus outbreak. What should they do? How should they respond? When should they see a vet?
Can Pets Get The New Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
The novel coronavirus allegedly emerged in China, where it passed from wild animals, possibly a pangolin or bat, and into humans. Viruses only cross the species barrier rarely, following a chance mutation that allows them to bypass the defenses of the new host. In the case of the SARS-CoV-2 – the current coronavirus – a chance mutation, we are told, allowed it to make the jump. The virus developed a new protein key that allowed it to unlock the door on the surface of human lung cells, thereby making it infectious to people.
This aspect of viral transmission naturally begs the question of whether a similar process could occur between humans and their pets. Could they get sick too?
Interestingly, there is evidence that cats and dogs can carry the virus on their bodies and in their mucus membranes. However, there is not any data yet suggesting that they can become seriously ill or die, as people can. Some researchers have observed that some large cats can develop a dry cough, but they are mostly asymptomatic. The same is true of dogs. The transmissibility to other animals is not widely known.
Commentators often dismiss the idea that viruses can travel between species because viruses use very specific key-like proteins to unlock cell doors. And these locks are different in every species. However, no law of nature says that the coronavirus cannot make the jump again from people to their pets, so we will need to remain vigilant.
We do not know for sure yet, but coronavirus will likely come around in a second wave later this year or next. Viruses like this tend to mutate and then pulse through the population periodically. The current version of the virus is relatively harmless to pets right now.
The main danger for pets in the current COVID-19 pandemic, however, is their owners becoming sick or unable to take care of them financially. In general, dogs, cats, and others should be okay, so long as the virus does not make the inter-species leap.
Is It Contagious To Humans?
Coronavirus can survive for a few hours or materials similar to your pet’s fur. So, if a person with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs on your animal and then you touch them with your hand and touch your face, then you could become infected. The risks are likely small, though compared to standing close to an infected human. If you are worried, keep your pet on a lead in public and maintain social distance at all times.
If you or somebody in your household currently has COVID-19, then keep your animal indoors. Doing this will help prevent the spread of infection to other people in the community.
When To See A Vet?
Most people are doing everything that they can to maintain social distancing and stay at home as much as possible. Sheltering in place is the best way to blunt the peak of the pandemic when vaccines and antivirals are unavailable.
But what if your pets get very ill?
If your pet gets sick during COVID-19, then you can still get care, but you should only seek it if there is a genuine emergency.
The CDC has instructed veterinarians to limit in-person patient care to critically ill animals and only to carry out work if it is in the interests of public health. Most veterinarians are performing online meetings. Online meetings with owners are being used to discuss the needs of their animals and what to do next. Sometimes, they will invite you to bring them in for further examinations, and other times, they’ll instruct you on how to manage at home until the coronavirus threat passes.
You must tell the vet whether you have COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for the virus as this will help them choose the right protective gear.
For many pets, the risk is not COVID-19 itself, but the fallout from the virus on human society. Pet owners are struggling financially, and sick animals may not be able to get the medical attention that they need. As an owner, the best way to look after your pet is to take care of yourself and the people around you.
We hoped you found our blog about pet safety during coronavirus helpful. If you are looking for more information, you can visit our Brightcare Veterinary Group Animal Hospital website. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.