The Coronavirus and Your Pet - a Veterinary Team's Perspective

March 4, 2020 at 2:49 PM by Nikki Wardle

Coronavirus and your pet

Over the past few months, the coronavirus, or Covid-19, has been blasted all over the news, almost as much as the upcoming 2020 presidential elections. At first it was mainly over in Asia and Europe, but now that confirmed cases and related deaths have started to appear closer to home, we are starting to get the question, can my pet get, or be a carrier of the coronavirus? 

Below Dr. Hunt talks about what Covid-19 is, how it spreads, and how your pet does or does not play a role in the spread of the virus.

What is it?

Covid-19 is a rapidly developing and changing virus. Our understanding and the implications of this virus are unknown and changing on a regular basis. Please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most up-to-date information regarding this virus and associated recommendations with the clinical manifestation of this virus (Covid-19).

Covid-19 is the clinical manifestation of an infection of novel (new to humans) virus in the Corona family (coronaviridae). Viruses from the coronaviridae family are involved with many clinical diseases in many different species. For example, the common cold in humans is caused by a different corona virus as was the human SARS epidemic a few years ago. Animals also experience coronaviridae viruses However, in dogs in cats the corona virus only causes mild to asymptomstic gastrointestinal disease (diarrhea). 

How does it spread?

While it may have originated from an animal source (likely to be bats, but this has yet to be confirmed), the virus is currently spread from human to human by close contact (being within 6 feet of a person who is ill with Covid-19. The exact nature of spread is still not completely understood and new information regarding the spread of this virus will be available as we learn more. Once again, please refer to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html for the most up to date information regarding the spread of Covid-19.

What are the symptoms?

Mild to severe symptoms of respiratory disease including fever, cough and shortness of breath. Complications of infection can lead to pneumonia, organ failure, and death. Though the current death rate is reported to only be 2.1%.

How can we prevent getting sick?

Good hygiene is the best way to prevent getting sick . We currently do not have a vaccination available for human or animal use. Washing your hands, avoiding others who are clinically ill, and avoiding touching your face are VERY effective in limited the transmission of Covid-19.

What is the incubation period (time from exposure to becoming ill)?

10-14 days.

What about my pets?

To date, there are no confirmed cases of dogs being definitively infected nor being able to transmit the novel corona virus that causes Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed a dog in China has tested positive for the virus. However, the WHO nor the CDC have stated that as of 3/3/20, pets are very unlikely to pose a risk for carrying or becoming ill with Covid-19.

If you are sick and are suspicious of Covid-19, it is currently advised that you seek medical attention and then isolate yourself from other people and your pets. While we do not believe pets can carry Covid-19 or get sick from it, it is advised that you not maintain close contact with your pets while sick.

If you are sick with flu-like symptoms and your pet needs medical attention, we ask that you consider our telemedicine option to limit the transmission of infectious disease to staff and personnel who want to be here to serve you and your pets.

Topics: Pet Wellness Clinic, Pet Care

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.