Raising Your Paws - Your Pet Parent Resource

Worried about your pets and Covid-19? Here Are Reassurances. (Blog #63)

Published: 03/24/2020

Having access to and getting accurate information is so important right now, to help deal with all the questions you might have regarding Covid-19, yourself, and your pets. There are many sources of good, factual information appearing on the web, to calm your fears about if your pets are at risk,  yet at the same time, you may be seeing stories and headlines from parts of the world where people seem to be panicking, thinking they are going to get Covid- 19 from their pets and abandoning them.  You DO NOT need to do this. There is NO, I repeat, NO evidence that pets transmit the virus.  If you are like me, I need my dog for comfort more than ever now. They will be fine and need to stay by you.

For love of your pets, your well being, and your blood pressure, PLEASE read beyond the some of the headlines you see that strike terror in your heart. Do not stop and get stuck at the scary stories that may or may not be true – and go directly to the credible and highly reliable sources of accurate information, such as the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Besides talking about this on the podcast, here are the questions I answered with expanded and updated information to read and refer to. You will also find in this blog,  the links to the above named organizations (CDE and WHO) so you can quickly find out what you need to know about the virus for your own sake and then links to the pages in the resource section below where I got my information from that answers questions about our four-legged family members.

In this week’s podcast, episode 63, in the first segment, to help reassure you, and calm some of your fears about pets and the coronovirus, here are some questions you may have and the answers from information from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Can my dog and cats catch it and get sick? –

No. To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with Covid-19.

I want you to know that coronaviruses are not unusual. They make up a large group of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illness in people, others appear in wild animals and there are even canine and feline coronaviruses, but the ones that dogs and cats get, only infect dogs and cats. The particular coronavirus that we are calling Covid – 19 to distinguish it from other coronaviruses is a new or novel one we have never seen before and it only infects humans.

 But wait, I read/heard that one dog in Hong Kong did get it and now there is a second one – what about that?

I’ve been following the story of the first dog, a Pomeranian for awhile. It’s important for you to know the details of this story.

In Hong Kong, in February, there was a woman who had Covid- 19 and her 17 year old Pomeranian dog was handed over to the Hong Kong Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department for observation and quarantine. They collected and tested nasal and oral cavity samples from the dog which came back with a weak positive. While the test results seemed to indicate that the dog had a low-level of infection, the dog was not sick and showed no symptoms. They kept the dog in quarantine and continued to test because they could not establish if the dog really had been infected with the virus or this was a result of environmental contamination of the dog’s mouth and nose. Many other medical experts, including those from the World Health Organization (WHO), investigated the case also trying to determine if the dog was actually infected or had picked it up from a contaminated surface.

Subsequent tests were done looking for antibodies in the dog’s blood. Just so you know, antibodies are proteins that the immune system produces to attack a particular virus or bacteria – each antibody is different and designed to fight off a specific kind of invader. The antibody tests were done to  see if the dog has been infected and show if the dog’s immune system had come in contact with the virus. The Pomeranian’s tests came back negative meaning that no antibodies specific to the Covid – 19 were found in its system. Leaves it a bit unclear doesn’t it? As the dog was negative, it was then released back to its owner who had recovered from the virus.

Sadly, after the Pomeranian was returned home, it did die – but the cause is unknown due to no autopsy being done.

Here again, we want to stress, for your own sanity and peace of mind, during this most unprecedented and troubling time in our lives, be sure to read beyond headlines you may see. You and I know that at times, headlines are meant to catch our attention and can instill fear. Last week, I read a headline about this dog that was maddening to me. It stated, “First dog to test positive for coronavirus has died in Hong Kong.” If you don’t delve into the actual story in detail, you could easily get the impression that the dog died from coronavirus. This isn’t the case. The Hong Kong department said the cause of death could not be determined – the owner declined to conduct an autopsy. What needs to be stressed and to keep in mind about the dog dying, which was very unfortunate, was the dog never got sick with the virus, he had underlying medical conditions and he was an old dog for that breed.

You may have also recently, heard that as of March, 21, 2020, there is another story being reported that a second dog, a German Shepherd in Hong Kong, has tested positive for coronavirus. This dog has not shown any symptoms of the disease. He is in quarantine with another mixed-breed dog from the same household who tested negative and also has shown no signs of the disease.  Both dogs continue to stay in quarantine and will continue to be tested.

Even with these two dogs, the World health organization, the Hong Kong Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the CDC still states, that to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet animals, can become ill with COVID-19.

A little perspective in case you are wondering if we will find out in the future, that our pets can become infected with it.

During the days of the 2003 outbreak of SARS, which was the severe acute respiratory syndrome, some dogs and cats did contract low-level infections of that particular coronavirus but the case histories showed that even though a small number of pets tested positive, NONE became sick and importantly, there was no evidence of viral transmission from pet dogs or cats to humans. The key point here is that there is a difference between the dogs and cats being infected and becoming infectious. They were not infectious during SARS.

So what’s the most important message about these dogs in Hong Kong regardless of what else you may see? The Hong Kong department themselves stated “Pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.”   Calm your fears and keep your beloved pets with you.

Can they transmit the virus to you?

The answer is No. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there is no reason to think that any animals, including pets in the U.S., might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, they haven’t received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, noting that “at this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) also echoed that there is no evidence that dogs can spread the disease or that the disease can cause an animal to fall ill.

Didn’t the virus come from an animal in China in the first place?

Yes, this is true. Scientists say the virus initially jumped from animals to humans.

As I mentioned before, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals.

In recent history, there have been the rare incidents where the kind of coronaviruses that infect some animals – have emerged to infect people and then they were spread between humans.  This is what is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. There was a variety of different wild animals being sold for food, at a seafood market in Wuhan, China and Chinese health officials believe that the coronavirus, Covid – 19 originated from the wild animals at the market. Even though you may have heard that the animals that spread it, were snakes or bats, but this has NOT been confirmed and to my knowledge we don’t know which particular animal it actually was.

What is important is remember is that the type of coronaviruses that dogs and cats may get, are NOT the types that jump to humans.

The bottom line: People don’t get Covid-19 from pets, and pets don’t get sick or pass the virus on.

Are there any precautions I should be taking with my pets?

Yes, If you are sick with Covid-19, you’d want to restrict your contact with them, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with Covid-19, it is still recommended that people that have the virus limit contact with their animals until more information is known about the virus. As hard as this would be, it means, avoid petting, snuggling, and kissing your pet.

You see, while there is no solid evidence that animals can carry the virus internally, their bodies may still act like a fomite for it. What’s a fomite? It’s a surface that can transmit disease – and anything can be one – such as a door handle, a gas pump, a phone screen, or your cat’s fur. The idea is that someone with the virus that may have been coughing into their hands or wiping their nose, that then, pets the cat, may deposit some of the virus on the animal’s fur. When someone else in your family comes along to pet same feline, they can inadvertently get the virus on their hand, and then, without thinking, rub their eyes. Oh, oh. Possible infection. As you know, this is why we are constantly told to wash our hands and stop touching our faces.

Now, we don’t know for sure this could happen with your pets fur, and we don’t really know how long the virus could live on the your dog or cat’s fur, but because  we don’t know enough about it yet, its better to play it safe.

If you are sick, if possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while recovering. Keep them close for comfort, of course, but you’re going to have to be more diligent about washing your hands before cuddling.

If you must care for your pet yourself, while you are sick with Covid-19, wash your hands before and after you interact with your dog or cat, avoid sharing food and wear a facemask if you have one.

If you are well and going for walks with  your dog, this also means when out walking, it’s best not to let other people touch or pet your dog. This is a hard one. When I’ve been walking Rosy the last few weeks, even though I am social distancing and so are the other people, every one does want to be close to my dog and she wants to go near them and get petted and loved on. Eeeesssh.  I am going to have to get strict about this and ask people not to pet her –  Not easy, I’m finding. Rosy is very sweet and beautiful – her fur is very soft and people we meet, clearly, want or need her comfort. I hate to deprive them of her attention, but I guess we’ve got to apply social distancing to our pets too.

Probably goes without having to say so, but if your pet becomes sick and you are not sure why and you are concerned, of course, call and go see your vet.

Knowing what we do know about pets not getting sick from the virus, and not passing it on, please keep perspective, and do your very best to remain calm.

Full Show notes for Raising Your Paws podcast Episode 63

Title: Reassurances About Pets and Covid-19 & The Benefits of CBD oil From a Vet.

If your dog ever gets an expression on its face that looks like they are smiling, I’d like you to send a photo of that to me. I’ll post a number of smiling dog photos on one of the blog posts on the Raising Your Paws website and your dog will receive a large free bag of NutriSource pet food.   Please send one or two photos of your smiling dog to susan@raisingyourpaws.com. Be sure to tell me your dog’s name and the kind of breed they are. Keep the photos coming through the end of March 2020.

First, are you worried about your pets, and Covid – 19? Confused about crazy stories and scary headlines that seem contradictory? Please be reassured.

Here are the questions I’ll answer from the reliable sources, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

Can my dog and cats catch it and get sick?

I read that one dog in Hong Kong got it – what’s the real story?

Can they transmit the virus to me?

Didn’t the virus come from an animal in China in the first place?

Are there any precautions I should be taking with my pets?

Then, Dr. Barbara Royal, DVM, a leading integrative vet who is the founder and owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center and author of “The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets” is here to talk about the benefits that CBD oil has for your dog and cat.

Finally, there is something about your dog’s face that can aid you in knowing your dog’s mind – if their mouth is open or closed as they go about their activities during different times of their day. This can be another indicator of their inner feelings. I’ll explain which ones.

Additional Resources for the show.

Center for Disease Control – Information about pets from the FAQ page.

World Health Organization – Information about pets from the Q & A page.

Dr. Barbara Royal’s Royal Treatment Vet Center.

Purchase Dr. Royal’s books.