Can my pet catch COVID-19?

You may wonder whether your cat or your dog is able to catch or transmit COVID-19. Latest research shows that YES, a pet can catch Covid-19 from its owner.

Will my pet infect me with COVID-19?

At the beginning of the pandemic, the public’s fear in connection with their pet was that animals would pass the virus to humans, but do not worry: research so far suggests that it is much more likely to be the other way round – that humans will infect their pets. Equally as reassuring to pet owners is that if that happens, a pet is most likely to be asymptomatic or suffer only mild illness. It is very rare indeed for a pet to suffer serious illness due to Covid.

To date, there has been no proven evidence of transmission from pets to owners – in fact, not a single case, according to Dr Angel Almendris from the City University in Hong Kong. It is important to note, therefore, that you should not make your pet wear a mask, or attempt to disinfect your pet’s fur which may cause poisoning.

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”

– James Herriot

In one recent study from Utrecht University, swabs were taken from 310 pets in 196 homes where the Covid virus was present in a human. Out of those animals, six cats and seven dogs (over 4%) tested positive on a PCR test for current Covid-19 infection.

The blood samples of 54 of the pets also tested positive for having antibodies against the virus suggesting that they had been in contact with the disease already and had past exposure to it. That is over 17% of the pets tested in the study.

How can I protect my pet from Coronavirus?

Dr Els Broens from the University advised that people infected with Covid should avoid physical contact with their cat and dog just the same as they would do with people. Most veterinary clinics will advise that you keep your pet in isolation if it has been in contact with a person testing positive for the virus.

It is also recommended that as a precaution you minimise the amount of contact your pet has with people or animals outside of your household. However, it is not necessary or advised to keep a healthy Covid-free pet such as a cat indoors if they ordinarily spend some time outdoors.

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet”

– Colette

Will my pet spread the virus?

Whilst veterinary doctors in Russia have begun to administer the vaccine to some animals, Dr Broens advised that present research indicates that it is unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic.

A further study conducted by a university in Ontario, Canada, tested 48 cats and 54 dogs kept as pets for Covid antibodies. Approximately 43% of dogs had a positive test and around 67% of cats tested positive.

This contrasts markedly with stray cats and dogs who had a much reduced amount of human contact: of the stray dogs, only 9% tested positive and only 3% of stray cats tested positive.

These statistics interestingly also indicate that cats have a higher risk of catching Covid from human interaction than dogs. It has been suggested that this is most likely a result of their biological make up, and also possibly that it may be because cats are more prone to sleep very close to their owners faces which increases their risk of infection.

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished.”

– Dean Koontz

In conclusion, these two reportedly robust studies indicate that it is unlikely your pet will act as a vehicle for transmitting Covid-19 to the human population.

Although research has mostly concentrated on human to human transmission and it has not yet been proven scientifically for pet to human transmission to be impossible at this point in time, there are absolutely no scientific studies which suggest that it is necessary to abandon or euthanise pets as a result of Covid infection.

With a large increase in the number of pets being abandoned or taken to shelters due to job losses, or because owners have died as a result of Covid, it is reassuring to know that at least household pets are not posing any additional risks to the spread of the virus to humans relating to this pandemic.

Yes, your pet may catch Covid but no, they are extremely unlikely to infect you, your family or any other person.

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