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COVID-19 Update: Are Pets at Risk?

ElleVet Husky

I know, I know. This virus has had its grips on society for over a year now, and quite frankly, I think I speak for a majority when I say we are sick of hearing about it. Not because we are negligent or don’t care about the health of the greater good, but it engulfs every news cycle, every day. It’s hard to escape, literally and figuratively. 

As we all breathe a sigh of relief as vaccinations continue and the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter, we thought it’d be helpful to review any new information regarding the risks our pets are at, if any, when it comes to the coronavirus. With such a new disease that no one has any prior experience with, information is constantly being uncovered and relayed. So, hopefully, for the last time, we will give a brief overview of the information available regarding dogs, cats, and COVID-19. 

What We Know

It has been found in some cases, and COVID-19 has infected dogs and cats. It is believed that these animals contracted the virus after one of their owners or someone close to the family was COVID-19 positive. However, based on the available information, the risk of animals spreading the virus to humans is very low. No evidence suggests petting or touching an infected pet’s fur will, in turn, infect the human that is coming in contact. 

And for some comforting news, of the infected dogs and cats, the overwhelming majority did not show any symptoms or signs of illness, and zero died due to the COVID-19 infection. 

More studies need to be done regarding animal-to-animal transmission and which animals are at risk. So far, there have been reports of animals being infected, from house pets like dogs and cats to wild animals in sanctuaries such as tigers and gorillas. So, it is not entirely known which species are at risk and just how much risk entails. This information comes with time. 

What Do I Do If I’m Infected? 

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should apply the same protocol you would with human contact. Isolate yourself from your pets (as gut-wrenching as this may be) until you have completed quarantine and have cleared the virus. Remember, of the dogs and cats that have been infected, all of them were thought to be given the virus by their human counterparts. So, as hard as it may be to stay away from your loving furball, you are doing the right thing and protecting them. If this will throw off your daily routine (it will), it may be helpful to ask an uninfected friend or family member to take your pet on their walks and feed them for the duration of your quarantine. 

What if My Pet Tests Positive? 

Similar story here. If your dog or cat has tested positive for COVID-19, you should try and isolate them from friends and family members. This is easier said than done, I know. But again, you are doing the right thing and protecting the people and animals around you. 

If your pet has tested positive, taking them straight to the veterinarian is not recommended. If you need to, consult your veterinarian over the phone for the next steps, and keep a close eye on your dog or cat. As we mentioned, the good news is this disease does not appear to be fatal in dogs and cats, and of the pets that did show symptoms (a minimal amount), they were able to return to total health on their own, resting at home. 

Be Proactive 

To protect your dog and cat from infection, avoid dog parks and other areas usually involving a large, diverse array of dogs and humans. You should also limit your pet’s contact with non-family members and strangers around the neighborhood. Indoor cats may have an easier time with this, as to them, sitting inside is just another day in the life! With dogs, it can be a little more stressful. We encourage continuing your daily walks and exercise, being conscious of the 6 ft rule, and avoiding mingling with others when possible. 

The Homestretch 

I think we’re all ready to put COVID-19 in our rearview. As difficult as it may be, stay diligent. We have come too far to start disregarding safety protocols now! We will all get through this and come out the other side happy, healthy, and ready to hit the dog park!

The ElleVet Team
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