Several cities around the world mandated lockdowns, community quarantines and social distancing to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
As people lie restless not knowing what could happen next, experts and frontliners assure them safety by following protocols, especially of staying at home for the mean time to be safe from having the disease.
Pet owners, on the other hand, are assured by veterinarians and experts from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention that there is no evidence that animal companions can transmit the virus to humans.
KQED.org compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) by pet owners and asked veterinarians to answer them.
Dr. Brian H. Bird is a veterinarian and associate director of UC Davis One Health Institute and Dr. Dorrie Black is a veterinarian from the San Francisco veterinary clinic Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services.
Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?
At least two dogs, both owned by COVID-19 positive patients, have died in Hong Kong after testing “weak positive” to coronavirus, but a Hong Kong virologist told the South China Morning Post in an interview that neither of the two cases had the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“The public might have confusion, but when dogs are infected, it does not mean they have the disease or they are sick,” the virologist added.
Dr. Bird reiterates this by saying that there is still no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to humans.
“At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they may be a source of infection in the United States,” CDC stated.
If someone coughs on my pet, could I get COVID-19 from their fur?
“This is where it gets a little difficult,” says Dr. Black. “Technically, yes. [If someone infected with COVID-19] coughed over a dog, viruses in that droplet can survive for – and it depends on which article you read – somewhere between three-and-a-half to four hours.”
Dr. Bird adds that some studies have shown the virus can remain infectious for a period of hours to even a couple of days. So he suggested that to avoid potential exposure, bathe your animal companions with soap and water!
Can my pet get sick from COVID-19?
One thing is certain, Dr. Black says, is that coronaviruses do exist in pets.
The virus common to pets such as cats and dogs also cause respiratory problems and intestinal changes, however, the virus is novel to them. This means that the animals have adapted well to the virus that it is no longer lethal or dangerous for them.
“As far as we know, pets don’t get the disease caused by the virus,” Dr. Brian says.
CDC also reported no such cases, noting that further studies will have to prove how coronavirus affects pets.
Can I take my dog out for a walk?
” I think it’s OK as long as everyone is practicing what they preach. I would wipe down the leashes with peroxide, diluted bleach, or a high-alcohol concentration,” says Dr. Black.
What precautions should I take when bonding with my pets?
It’s simple, says Dr. Bird. Wash your hands!
“After you play with your pet, whether it’s a horse or a dog or a frog, wash your hands and make sure that you’re not putting any other potential pathogens in your mouth,” he advises.
If I tested positive for COVID-19, should I stay away from my pets?
Yes! Just like how humans keep a distance from other humans, it is important to restrict your contact with your pets and other animals.
“Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy,” CDC stated.
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