COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog or cat get coronavirus?

COVID-19 and your pet: Can my dog or cat get the coronavirus?

COVID-19 and my pet

It's on the tip of our tongues: COVID-19. This past week health officials have warned us that this is just the beginning. The impact of the virus will play out over months to come. Many pet owners have questions about the virus and how it could impact their fur-family. I decided to sniff out the facts on coronavirus and your pet.

What is coronavirus?

Let's start at the tip of the nose and work our way down to the tip of the tail. When you contract what is referred to as the 'common cold' you have likely contracted a type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses ranging in severity. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains coronaviruses:
"Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans."

The newly discovered COVID-19 is the virus that is currently spreading. While WHO is currently assessing the spread of the virus and performing research to learn more, WHO did have this to say about the spreading of COVID-19:

"People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick." 

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China. It originated in a species of bat. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans. Canine coronavirus (CCoV) causes gastrointestinal upset in dogs, but there is a vaccine against CCoV. There is no evidence that this canine virus can be transmitted to humans. Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is triggered by infection with a feline coronavirus (FCoV). Symptoms can include fever, weight loss, and laboured breathing. There is no evidence that this feline virus can be transmitted to humans. It is important to note that neither of these viruses is the COVID-19 virus. 

Can my dog or cat contract COVID-19?

Let's pitter-patter back to the 2019 coronavirus COVID-19. At this time WHO states that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can infect cats. According to WHO's Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for COVID-19, making it the first known animal case to test positive- although it was a weak positive. The dog is doing well and has no symptoms and will continue to be tested and studies for further information. WHO does not have evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted between humans and the dog. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath; cold-like and respiratory symptoms. They can be mild or severe. Immune-compromised people or people with long-term illnesses are at higher risk. Currently, in Ottawa there is COVID-19 testing taking place at Brewer Arena, 151 Brewer Way- it opened at 12 p.m. Friday and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to Ottawa Public Health "people WITHOUT respiratory symptoms (such as fever or cough) will NOT be tested for COVID-19, regardless of potential exposures."   

Gatinuea has also opened a COVID-19 testing
facility at 135 St-Raymond Blvd., near the Hull hospital. It's important to note that it's not a walk-in facility and patients must first be assessed by a nurse over the phone. You can call 1-877-644-4545 for an assessment.
What can I do to keep myself safe?

It's important not to panic, but at the same time to be cautious. Practicing basic personal hygiene and social distancing (1 meter) is very important. If you feel ill do not go into the general public and if your symptoms worsen call or visit your health care provider. Here are the following recommendations from the Ontario Ministry of Health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick

Government of Canada has the COVID-19 pandemic listed as a Level 3 and is recommending to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. This includes travel to the United States, in fact, it has updated 'All countries' as the location in the notice. For those who have traveled outside of Canada, the current recommendation is to self-quarantine for 14 days whether you experience symptoms or not. This is to protect yourself and those around you. 

Where can I find out more information?

Do you want to sniff out some facts? It's important to source information from trusted organizations. I'm keeping an eye on Ottawa Public Health because I reside in the city of Ottawa. I also recommend sourcing information from the following websites:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control
Public Health Canada
Government of CanadaOntario Ministry of Health

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