Is Your Pet Susceptible to COVID-19? A Veterinarian’s View

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As you know, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak continues to impact several countries around the world and pose a global health challenge. Cases of COVID-19 in countries continue to rise – including the increasing number of cases reported in different parts of India. 

A recent report from Hong Kong stated that one of the pets of an infected person tested weakly positive for the virus, putting many pet owners in panic. They started reaching out to vets to get further information on actions that can be taken for the safety of family and pets. However, it was further reported by the Hong Kong officials that the dog has not shown any signs of respiratory or other such infections reported in man. In addition, WHO officials also confirmed that this pet is doing well and hasn’t developed any symptoms. It is unlikely that this pet can be infected with the human COVID-19.

Coronavirus belongs to the family Coronaviridae. The Coronavirus tends to be species specific - dogs and cats have their own version of the virus and are not affected by human viruses. Canine coronavirus, which can cause mild diarrhea and feline coronavirus, which can cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), are both not associated with the current coronavirus outbreak. There is no evidence to date that pets can be actively infected with human COVID-19 or can be a source of infection to people. The experts of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association continue to recommend that good hygiene and proper hand wash should be practiced when handling pets, as well as keeping pets away from infected person. Seek veterinary care at the first sign of illness in an animal. Please look at the guidance from the OIE and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association to ensure updated information.



Can manufactured pet food carry coronavirus?


It is highly unlikely that dry or canned pet foods are potential viral vectors. It’s important to note that the current coronavirus outbreak does not pose a food risk to humans or pets, either through packaging or in the food itself. The processing conditions involved in the production of our food products are sufficient to destroy the virus. It is safe to feed commercial pet food.

Can imported pet goods from regions where the disease has widely spread be a source of infection in humans?

Due to the transmission methods recorded thus far, and the relatively low environmental stability of viruses, it is unlikely that imported goods such as imported foods or consumer goods such as toys, tools, computers, clothes or shoes may be sources of an infection of Coronavirus, according to the current state of knowledge.

Can my pet catch coronavirus?

Based on current information, it’s very unlikely. Research shows that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there’s no evidence that they can transmit the virus to people or other pets at home.

How can I protect my pet from getting coronavirus?

At this time, research suggests it’s very unlikely your pet can contract COVID-19 and there's no evidence they can infect others at home. We recommend:

- thorough handwashing

- keeping pets away from anyone infected

- confining pets if they've been around someone infected

Can my pet carry the virus in its fur?

Your pets’ fur is like any other surface so it’s important you practice thorough handwashing after handling them, keep pets away from anyone infected and confine pets if they've been around someone infected.

Do you recommend my pet wears a mask?

There’s no scientific evidence that masks protect pets from infectious diseases or air pollutants. Pets’ faces are more varied than human faces so a mask is unlikely to fit properly. Also, we can't explain to pets why we are putting something on their face so they may get scared.

Should I still take my dog for a walk?

Yes – pets love exercise! Take your dog for a walk on a leash, preferably with limited-to-no interaction with other people or pets.

Can I still take care of my pet if I am sick?

When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals if you are sick. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets.

Is there a risk my pet could get coronavirus from your food?

Please be assured that the current coronavirus outbreak does not pose a food safety risk to humans or pets, either through packaging or the food itself. The processing conditions involved in the production of our food products are sufficient to destroy the virus.

Are the locations where you source your ingredients from safe for pets to eat?

We source ingredients from many regions around the world, and only use high-quality ingredients that meet local laws as well as meeting our own high standards. The processing conditions involved in the production of our food products are sufficient to destroy the virus.

I can’t find my usual food in any shops, what’s happened?

Pet food is essential, and we are continuing to make the foods your pet needs and loves. There is no shortage of our pet food and we want to ask all pet owners to please be considerate and only purchase the food your pet needs.

I can’t get my usual food. Is it okay for me to switch diet?

Yes! Ideally choose a similar food (dry or wet) and slowly incorporate small amounts of the new food over the course of one week to ensure that a sudden change does not cause a dietary upset.

I’m worried about my personal situation and not being able to get enough food for my pet – what do you suggest?

We know this can be a worrying time and you always want what’s best for your pet. We are working closely with all our pet shelter partners and would encourage you to speak to them for any support in your local area.

By- Dr Umesh Kallahalli

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