DemDaily: COVID-19 and Our Pets

March 27, 2020

Amidst, and above in some cases, the concern for our own safety, is that of our pets.

While the novel coronavirus continues to claim human lives worldwide, there is conflicting information online about whether the beloved animal members of our family can contract or pass on COVID-19.

coronavirus is defined as a large family of respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which can infect both animals and people. That does not, however, mean that the novel COVID-19 coronavirus can infect or be spread by animals.

The Facts
Some coronaviruses cause illnesses in animals like cattle, camels and bats, and others such as canine and feline coronavirus are limited to animals, and incidence of them spreading to people is rare.

(DailyBeast/Getty)

While we do not know the exact source of the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, the World Health Organization has stated, "There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19." That includes imported animals, livestock and wild animals.

Risk to People
COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.

The virus survives best on smooth surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs. Porous materials, such as pet fur, tend to absorb and trap pathogens, making it harder to contract them through touch.

This makes petting animals a very low risk for COVID-19, but since animals can transmit other diseases, it is important to protect yourself by cleaning your hands frequently and thoroughly.

Risk to Animals 
If you have tested postive with COVID-19, or suspect you may have it, you should restrict contact with pets
and other animals.

(Getty)

We have found only one reported case of a human-to-animal transmission that resulted in the death of the pet, a 17-year-old Pomeranian in China. With testing just now becoming widely available to humans, however, there is no data yet on animal testing.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests keeping your distance in order to both avoid exposing your pets, and to prevent getting the virus on their skin or fur, which might be passed on to another person who touches the animal.

Sorry, no petting and snuggling.

If you are infected, have someone else walk and care for your pet while you are sick, and have them wipe your pet's paws when they come in and out of the house.

If you have real concerns about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian. Many, like shelters, are allowing visitors in a few at a time, or by appointment only, but are available on call or through tele-conferencing.

What the World Needs Now, is Love Sweet Love. There has been a huge surge in pet fostering and adoptions since the coronavirus lockdown took hold.

While already caring for millions of helpless animals in need of homes, rescue organizations and shelters across the country are attempting to free up space for animals that may need to be separated from COVID-19 infected owners.

Appeals to communities to help them place animals have resulted in skyrocketing rates of adoptions and fostering of animals.  According to Petpoint, an organization which aggregates data from close to 1,200 animal welfare organizations, there was a 93% increase in animals going to foster care over a one-week period this month.

With so many people now working from, or confined to, home full time, a pet is a welcome companion and source of entertainment for any sized family, particularly one with children.

But shelters are also bracing for a return of animals after life returns to normal for caretakers, as well as a growing number of animals surrendered because of concerns around COVID-19.

"Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them." -John Grogan, American Author
Resources

CDC On Animals and Coronavirus

Search "Adopt A Pet Near Me" to find shelters in your area!

 

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Sources: CDC, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Kennel Club, WHO, USAToday, Daily Beast

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