Protecting Your Pets From COVID-19
By Lily Erb, Content Writer
Learning that the coronavirus can infect and harm our household pets is a feeling comparable to watching a dog become a victim in a thriller movie. The dog might not be as important as the human characters, but it still hurts our hearts to watch Fido suffer. How does COVID-19 really affect our furry friends?
According to The New York Post, a North Carolina dog who died of an “acute illness” tested positive for COVID-19. The dog was an 8 year old male Newfoundland. Before passing away, the dog reportedly had trouble breathing. While the dog did test positive for COVID-19, it is unclear if the virus is actually the cause of death. A Newfoundland’s typical lifespan is 8 to 10 years old.
Dogs and cats are not the only animals to be affected by COVID-19. A mink farm in the Netherlands reported that their minks, a furry animal similar to a ferret, tested positive for COVID-19 after showing respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. Back in March, several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York tested positive for the virus. It is believed that the big cats contracted the virus after coming in close contact with a sick zoo employee.
Should we be worried about catching COVID-19 from animals? According to the CDC, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in transmitting the virus between species. Cross-species contamination is rare. COVID-19 was likely born into this world when a sick bat transmitted it’s illness to a person. From that point, person to person spread has been the main method of infection. However, animals of the same species can spread the virus among their population. Experiments on cats and ferrets have found that these species spread the virus easily among themselves. Dogs are able to contract COVID-19, but there is evidence that transmission among dog populations is less common. If you suspect your pet has COVID-19, call your veterinarian and explain their symptoms over the phone. Pets are only being tested for COVID-19 in very rare instances, on a case by case basis.
Although we know certain animals can catch and transmit COVID-19, not enough studies have been conducted to know how dangerous the virus is to animals. Although our pets currently seem low-risk for contracting coronavirus, the CDC recommends that you treat your pets like any other member of your family and keep them socially distanced from the public. Keep your cats indoors and walk your dogs away from crowded areas. They also recommend that if a person in your house becomes sick, that person should isolate themselves from all other family members, including pets. The CDC does not recommend putting face covering or masks on your pets. While a cute snapshot of your pup in a mask could make a good Christmas card, it is dangerous for animals to wear face coverings.
Staying home and isolated can protect not only your human family members, but your four-legged friends as well. Services like Smart Shop can help your family socially distance, keeping you and your pets safe.
Cover photo courtesy of AONIP/ISTOCK.
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