Coronavirus have become a public health emergency of international concern after cases quickly exploded from Wuhan, a city of 11 million in the central China province of Hubei, and other countries. Amid the new coronavirus outbreak, people are rushing to protect not only themselves from infection, but their pets as well. But do people really need to be worried about their dogs or cats getting coronavirus? Can pets carry or spread coronavirus?
What is Coranavirus and Where Did it Come From?
On February 11, the World Health Organization announced the official name for the disease resulting from the new coronavirus is Covid-19. The new official name is taken from the words “corona”, “virus” and “disease” with 2019 representing the year that it.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can affect mammals’ respiratory systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Coronaviruses are common amongst animals worldwide, but only a few of them can pass to humans.
The Covid-19 is suspected to have originated at a wet market in Wuhan, China, through the consumption of snakes that were infected with the virus. Specialists have not yet been able to determine the true source of the virus.
How Dangerous is It?
To-date, there are now more than 42,200 confirmed cases across China. In China, the Covid-19 has so far caused more than 1,000 deaths, surpassing the toll from the SARS outbreak. The outbreak of SARS mainly affected the populations of mainland China and Hong Kong.
Symptoms of the Covid-19 include cough, fever and shortness of breath, the CDC said. It estimated that symptoms may appear as soon as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.
There are no specific treatments for Covid-19 infections and most people will recover on their own, according to the CDC.
Can I Catch the Virus from My Pet?
Although Covid-19 most likely started its life in a sea-dwelling mammal, it is a human disease. This virus can spread via human-to-human transmission, meaning human can pass it between one another, but it cannot be passed back to animals.
However, it is always a great idea to wash your hands with soap and water after interacting with your dog or cat. This protects you from zoonotic diseases such as E.coli and Salmonella that can transmit between pets and humans.
To prevent virus infection, always avoid consumption of raw or undercooked foods, especially animal products. Raw foods of animal origin are more likely to be contaminated, and contaminated raw foods have been one of the most frequently identified contributing factors of virus infection cases. WHO advises people of all ages to practice safe food handling to help reduce the risk of getting infected with a virus.
Dog or cat owners who choose to feed a raw food diet should be more aware of the potential health risks and take full precautions while storing and handling raw or undercooked foods. If you want to feed your pet raw food, it is important that you follow certain steps when storing, handling and serving the raw food. According to PetMD, any surface the raw food touches, including cutting boards, knives, kitchen counters, food bowls or your hands may become contaminated if the food contains a pathogenic organism. Hence, it is very important to educate your family about how to properly store and prepare raw pet food in order to protect yourself and your family.
Although a raw meat-based diet has become increasingly popular for cats and dogs in recent years, a recent research in the BMJ journal Vet Record warns that many raw meat dog food products contain high levels of bacteria that pose potential health risks to both animals and people. The study suggests that canines that have eaten raw foods that contain bacteria could pass them on to humans by licking them affectionately right after a meal.
To reduce your risk of getting or spreading an infection, you may consider freeze dried or air dried pet food as temporary substitute instead. This is because the process of air-drying or freeze-drying food can get rid of potential bacteria while help retain the vital nutrients that keep pets healthy and energized.
Best freeze-dried dog food: Primal Freeze Dried Canine Lamb Nuggets
Best freeze-dried cat food: Primal Freeze Dried Feline Chicken & Salmon Nuggets
How Does This Virus Spread?
According to the WHO, the Covid-19 causes respiratory disease and can be spread primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when a person, for example, coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. Also, the Covid-19 is commonly spread between an infected person and others via close personal contact and an object or surface with viral particles on it (then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands);
Safety Measure to Take for Now
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Covid-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection with Covid-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus, according to the CDC. Great hygiene practices should always be your first defense. The CDC suggests the following to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses: wash your hands regularly with soap and water at least 20 seconds, cover your mouth when you sneeze, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands, stay home when you are sick and avoid close contact with those who are coughing and sneezing.
In addition, face masks need to be changed frequently. According to the WHO, face masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. You should wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Wearing a mask also protects you from contracting a cold, flu or other virus.
Latest COVID-19 Cases: Can Dogs Get Coronavirus?
According to American Kennel Club, canines can contract certain types of coronaviruses, including the canine respiratory coronavirus, but COVID-19 is believed to not be a health threat to canines.
In February, a pet dog, a 17-year-old Pomeranian in Hong Kong tested ‘weak positive‘ for coronavirus and was placed into quarantine from February 26 to March 14. The dog was allowed to return home after finally tested negative for COVID-19, and then died on March 16. However, the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) reported that there is no evidence that canines could be a source of COVID-19 infection for humans.
A German Shepherd has tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong days after the first to contract the disease died. Experts believed the German Shepherd is like to have caught COVID-19 from its owner.
Local health officials characterize the cases of the two dogs in Hong Kong as “likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission,” and neither dog showed any signs of illness from the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) also has reiterated that there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.
While there is no evidence that pets can be a source of Covid-19 for humans, the Hong Kong government has urged people not to abandon their pets and to avoid kissing their pets.
Is it Safe to Pet My Dog or Cat?
Don't panic! One pet animal may have a low-grade infection, but there's no indication pets get sick or spread COVID-19. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, petting a pet animal’s fur is a low risk. All you need to do, is to practice good hygiene with your beloved pet!
Healthy dog or cat owners don’t need to do anything other than follow basic hygienic precautions such as washing their hands with water and soap before and after contact with any animal. If pet owners test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, pet owners should restrict contact with their pets.
Wearing a mask while petting your pet can decrease the possibility of spreading COVID-19 through droplets. To help decrease the spread of all germs, pet owners may also consider wiping their pet’s body when they come in and out of the house with pet-friendly grooming wipes.