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“Novel” means we are learning as we go. How do we keep our pets safe?

Article by Dr. Liz Bales – https://www.doclizbales.com

COVID19 is caused by the Novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.  “Novel” means brand new. No one has ever experienced this virus before. We are learning how the virus acts, and how to protect ourselves as fast as we can.  This is also true for our pets.  The information is evolving weekly, so it is important that we stay informed, and not fearful, to protect our people and our pets. The Coronavirus gets its name from its crown-like appearance and the spikes that make that crown-shape are very important.  We call them “spike proteins” and these act like a key to attach to the ACE2 receptors and unlock entry into the cell of humans.

Over the past few weeks, we have information that 2 dogs in Hong Kong that lived with COVID19  + people also tested + for the virus.  Then we learned that some cats in Belgium and then the tiger and lions at the Bronx Zoo that were cared for by COVID + people showed upper respiratory symptoms and the cats tested + for the virus. 2 more cats in NYC also tested + for the virus, one with a known COVID + family member, one with no known source of exposure.. And April 26 we learned that two Mink farms in the Netherlands with COVID + workers, that have 20,000 mink between them, have mink that are showing upper respiratory signs and have tested + for the virus. 

Testing has been very limited.

Obtaining testing for animals has been extremely difficult and  therefore it has been challenging to get information.  That is all about to change.  In the next two weeks, Idexx Laboratories will be launching a SARS-CoV-2 test for pets that will be available worldwide.

What does this mean for you and your pets?

It is very important to get good information, not based in fear and that we make decisions that consider both human and animal welfare. There is no evidence of an animal giving COVID19 to a human. There is no reason to rehome your pets or to hold off adopting a pet at this time.It is becoming clear that it is possible for humans infected with COVID19 to pass the virus on to their pets. Animals may show no symptoms or may show mild upper respiratory signs.  There are no known fatalities as a result of COVID19 in animals.

How do you keep your pets safe?

Outside of the home, “social distance” from animals and people. Humans are advised to stay at least 6 feet away from one another.  Likewise, keep your pets at least 6 feet from people and other pets outside of the home. No dog parks, or pet playdates. Cats should be kept indoors or on a leash. Inside the home, if a household member is sick, limit their contact with animals. The sick person should wear a face mask when sharing the room with pets and should not share food, or close physical contact with pets. Plan for another household member to care for your pets.