A message about COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) from 24PetWatch®

Written by Dr. Sperry, DVM, Veterinary Advisor, Pethealth Inc.


“We are watching closely as new information continues to become available about the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The World Health Organization states that there is no indication that dogs or cats can become ill as a result of this virus, and there is no suggestion that they can spread the disease to humans or other animals.  At this time, we have seen no unusual increase in reports of pet illness, and no documented dog or cat illnesses as a result of this virus. Although two dogs in China have tested positive for the virus, they did not become ill, and are not considered to be an important factor in the transmission of the virus. One cat in Belgium has also tested positive for the virus.  As new information becomes available, we will respond accordingly.”


What is Coronavirus? 
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can infect humans, animals and birds.  Different types of coronaviruses infect different species and can cause different symptoms. 

What is COVID-19? 
COVID-19, is a respiratory illness caused by a newly-identified coronavirus, now named SARS-CoV-2. 

What are the signs/symptoms of COVID-19? 
The most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 are mild, and include fever, fatigue, dry cough, and headache. Some people have also reported sore throat, runny nose, and diarrhea.  A fraction of people may develop difficulty breathing due to pneumonia. 

How is COVID-19 spread? 
COVID-19 is spread through aerosols- water droplets expelled from the nose and/or mouth of an infected person, particularly when they cough or sneeze.  The coronavirus can live for up to three days on some surfaces, however, surface contact is not considered to be the primary mode of transmission.  Standard cleaners and disinfectants can kill the virus on hands and on surfaces. 

Can my pet get COVID-19? 
Although there is some limited evidence that dogs may be able to carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there is no evidence that your pet can become sick due to COVID-19.  Two dogs in China tested positive for the virus, however, they did not show any signs of illness. A cat in Belgium also tested positive for the virus. To date, there has been no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can spread the virus to humans or other animals.

Can I protect myself by wearing a mask?  Should my pet wear a mask? 
If you are coughing or sneezing, surgical masks can help restrict the spray of aerosols.  Masks help protect the people around you from your germs.  Surgical masks do not protect the wearer from airborne or aerosol pathogens.  The same is true for masks on pets.  If you are ill, please stay home.  If you must go out, wear a mask to protect those around you.  Otherwise, please conserve masks for use by health workers. 

How should I handle my pet if I become ill? 
If you are ill, but do not require hospitalization, it is best to stay in your home with your pet until you are recovered.  Remember to wash your hands before and after feeding, handling and cleaning up after your pet.  Keep a 2-metre distance between you and your pet wherever possible and avoid face-to-face contact and bed-sharing. 

What should I do if my pet is sick? 
Sick pets should be kept separate from people and other animals.  Call your veterinarian to see if your pet’s signs/symptoms warrant an examination.  If you have been ill, or if you have traveled recently to a country where COVID-19 is prevalent, advise your veterinarian of this so that appropriate measures can be taken to examine your pet without undue exposure to others. 

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19? 
There are currently no vaccines available against COVID-19 for pets or people.  The currently available vaccines against Canine Enteric Coronavirus, and Feline Infectious Peritonitis do not provide protection against COVID-19. 

How can I reduce my risk of infection? 
Coronaviruses are susceptible to standard cleaners and disinfectants.  Soap and water, hand sanitizer, and standard household cleaners can destroy the virus on surfaces and your hands.  Below are some common-sense tips for reducing the risk to you, your pets, and the people around you: 

  • Follow the directions of your local public health organization for social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine 

  • Wash your hands with soap regularly, especially after eating, using the bathroom, coughing/sneezing, and handling pets 

  • Stay home if you are sick.  Keep a distance of more than two metres from household members and pets 

  • Keep your pets up-to-date on regular vaccines and wellness checkups as much as your local veterinary hospital allows 

  • Aside from visits to the vet, keep sick pets home and separate from other pets in the home Avoid visits to dogs parks, kennels, doggy daycares and other high-density gatherings if your pet seems unwell 

  • Do not allow your cat outside.  Allow dogs outside only on a leash, or in a fenced yard.  If your dog is sick, do not take him out of your home/yard except to go to the vet.
  • Avoid face-to-face contact with your pets (kissing, licking, snuggling, bed-sharing) 
  • Avoid touching your face and mouth with your hands 

  • Cough/sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your elbow 

For more information about coronavirus as it relates to your pets, visit the World Small Animal Veterinary Association at www.wsava.org, the World Health Organization at www.who.int, and the Worms and Germs Blog at https://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/

The information provided and contained herein are the opinions of PTZ Insurance Agency Ltd. which are based on external publication. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice.  PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss, claims or damages arising out of the within content.

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