Q&A: Are Household Pets Carriers of the Novel Coronavirus?

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The human coronavirus outbreak has affected hundreds of thousands of people, yet some wonder what the infection could mean for their pets. It’s believed that the virus originated from bats in Wuhan, which was then passed on to an intermediate host before infecting humans. In China, a Pomeranian dog tested positive for the virus, which prompted the authorities to place it under quarantine.

Since the new strain of microbes did affect animals, people started to worry, asking questions about their pets. What is coronavirus going to do to my dog’s health? What does a coronavirus infection look like in cats? We rounded up all the frequently asked, addressing them one by one:

Can I Catch the Virus from My Dog?

There’s no evidence that pets can pass on coronavirus to humans. In the case of the Pomeranian dog, it was indeed infected, but it wasn’t infectious. In fact, it’s believed that it was a human-to-animal transmission. The owner of the dog had COVID-19 herself, but has since recovered.

Some experts, on the other hand, theorize that the pet was contaminated with the virus, instead of being infected, since the virus can remain on surfaces, such as door handles or tote bags, or floors for hours. The bottom line is, from the latest scientific information, there’s no solid proof that coronavirus in dogs or cats can spread to humans.

If They Can’t Infect Humans, Can They Infect Other Pets?

Similar to the finding above, there’s no evidence that animals infect other animals. So far, medical experts have not recorded any incident of coronavirus in cats spreading to the same species. However, it’s still good as a precautionary measure to keep pets a safe social distance away from each other. For your dogs and cats at home, keeping them in their pens and scheduling play times will be a good practice.

What Should I Look for If I Suspect My Pet is Infected?

There’s still much to know about this. A number of other types of coronaviruses have affected animals in the last years, particularly dogs. When infected, these pets exhibit respiratory symptoms, such as coughing. You may need to watch out for that, but again, specific information about this novel coronavirus is still evolving. Coronavirus in feline species, for one, remains largely unexplored. 

If My Pet Is Indeed Infected, Should I Quarantine Them?

As a safety precaution, yes. The coronavirus-infected dog in Wuhan underwent quarantine. Here in the country, however, testing has only been made available solely for humans–a small fraction of people, in fact, as the kits are only limited. Healthcare workers prioritize people who have a travel history and who have been in contact with the infected.

The best thing to do is to be cautious around your pets. Avoid letting them lick your face. Maintain social distance from them. Take them to the vet if you suspect something’s up. Although a lot is still unknown about coronavirus in cats, their doctor should be able to recommend what else you should do as a precaution. 

If I Have COVID-19 Symptoms, How Should I Take Care of My Pets?

If you think you have the infection or that you tested positive, the first thing you should do is to be in quarantine. Should you be allowed to be at home, you should be given a room separate from your pets and other occupants of the house. As always, follow the protocols, as these can reduce transmission of coronavirus to cats and dogs:

  • Wash your hands properly and thoroughly for 20 seconds.
  • Eat nutritious meals and stay hydrated. Avoid sharing utensils with other people at home.
  • Take the medicines your doctor has prescribed, at appropriate times.
  • Avoid petting animals. After coughing or sneezing, your hands could have coronavirus. Cats and dogs may catch it in this manner.
  • Wear a mask when going to shared areas at home.
  • Ask a friend or a loved one to take care of the pet, if you live alone or in case you get hospitalized in the future.

How Do I Stay Healthy Around My Pet?

While it’s a given that you don’t necessarily get coronavirus infection from pets, do remember that they still carry germs that can make you sick. That said, exercise caution when dealing with them. Aside from avoiding licks, here are other things you should do:

  • Wash your hands after touching them and handling food, supplies, and especially their waste.
  • Observe proper pet hygiene practices. Clean your pet’s litter box every day. Wash their food and water bowls thoroughly. Bathe your pet after outdoor playtime.
  • Take your pets to the veterinarian regularly. Discuss any odd behaviors you may have observed.

In this health crisis plaguing humanity on all fronts, don’t forget the well-being of your pets, too. Keep them safe by keeping your health in tip-top shape. As always, stay indoors, if possible. Watch out for symptoms. Call your doctor if they worsen.

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