Due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, government and health officials are asking citizens to be more cautious. Social distancing and frequent hand washing are recommended to reduce the rate of infections. In addition to taking care of themselves, what do pet owners need to know about protecting their furry friends during this time?
What You Need to Know About COVID-19
COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is the latest strain of a flu-like condition. It’s mainly spread by being in close contact with someone who has already caught the virus. The most common symptoms are fever, a runny nose, coughing, and shortness of breath. While testing has already begun for a vaccine, there is currently no available cure.
Thankfully, the majority of COVD-19 cases are mild and most will be able to make a full recovery on their own. However, some people are at higher risk for critical cases. The rate of recovery is lower for those over the age of 60. Those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiac diseases are also more at risk.
Can Pets Catch COVID-19?
While dogs and cats can catch species-specific types of influenza, they cannot contract the flu from their human owners. Similarly, there is currently no evidence that pets like dogs and cats can be infected with COVID-19.
Even if the animal can’t get sick from the virus, they could potentially be a carrier. If someone who has COVID-19 pets your dog’s head and you kiss its face shortly after, you may get sick. There’s also the possibility that pets can become infected but not experience any ill effects.
Are There any Known Cases of COVID-19 in Animals?
Other types of coronavirus have been present in animals before, such as bats, camels, and ferrets. In February, a Pomeranian in Hong Kong was found to test positive for COVID-19. The dog likely caught the disease from its owner.
However, officials found that it was only a “weak positive” and that the dog was showing no symptoms. The dog eventually tested negative for the coronavirus after a two-week quarantine. Because it showed no symptoms, even though it was 17 years old, your pet will likely be just fine even if infected.
Still, it’s good practice to wash your hands after handling your pets, especially if they go outside. Dogs and cats can get dirt or parasites trapped in their fur. If you are sick from any virus, you should avoid kissing or snuggling your pet until you are fully recovered.
What Will Happen to my Pet if I Catch COVID-19?
If you’ve been confirmed positive for COVID-19, quarantine yourself immediately until you have recovered. Make sure that you have enough of your pet’s favorite food for at least two weeks. If your dog needs to go outside, stay at least six feet away from any other humans.
If your dog becomes ill while you are in quarantine, call your veterinarian for advice. Often, they will be able to assist you over the phone. If it’s an emergency situation, you can drive your pet to the vet’s office and have staff retrieve the animal from your vehicle.
The Best Ways to Avoid Contracting COVID-19
Washing your hands is the best way to kill germs from cold, flu, and the latest coronavirus. The World Health Organization recommends that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer composed of at least 60% alcohol will also work.
When in public, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not on your hands. If you feel under the weather, stay home to prevent spreading your germs to other people – and potentially their pets.