With the widespread COVID-19 pandemic, many people are worried about their furry friends catching the disease. There may be a lot of confusion going on especially since there are several already well-known coronaviruses that are also related to pets.
This article explores the most observed coronaviruses in animals and addresses how COVID-19 extends to household pets.
- Canine coronavirus (CCoV) and feline coronavirus (FCoV) are common gastrointestinal infections that result in symptoms including diarrhea and dehydration in both dogs and cats.
- COVID-19 is a lung disease mostly transmitted between humans.
- As of June 10th, there have been 8 confirmed cases of animals with COVID-19 in the United States.
- While the chances of pets catching COVID-19 are very low, it is still important to practice precautionary measures to protect them from yourself or others that may be sick.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses distinguished by their crown-like structure. The coronavirus diseases most observed in household pets are the canine coronavirus (CCoV) and the feline coronavirus (FCoV). These infections often result in gastrointestinal issues.
The discussion of the coronavirus in the context of household pets can easily confuse the previously mentioned diseases with the COVID-19 disease which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Canine coronavirus (CCoV)
CCoV is a common gastrointestinal infection most likely transmitted between dogs through exposure to the stool of an infected dog. The disease is highly contagious because an infected dog can shed the virus in its poop for as long several months. Dogs that reside in unsanitary conditions or hang out around many dogs are at greater risk of becoming infected.
When it occurs alone, CCoV is a mild condition. However, a dog’s health will be more compromised when it occurs with parvovirus or other intestinal infections. The canine coronavirus does not usually have many symptoms in adult dogs apart from some vomiting or diarrhea for a short period of time. On the other hand, puppies with CCoV are more likely to suffer from serious prolonged illness such as diarrhea and dehydration.
Feline coronavirus (FCoV)
Much like CCoV, FCoV is a common intestinal infection that is mostly transmitted through exposure to the fecal matter of an infected individual. Cats that use a communal litter tray or are around many cats are at greater risk of becoming infected.
Most cats that become infected recover after a short time, but some will have chronic infection. Kittens that are the offspring of mothers that have FCoV are protected from infection when they drink breast milk containing antibodies.
How the COVID-19 pandemic could affect your pet
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 human virus and it is primarily spread through human-to-human contact. This lung disease results in flu-like symptoms, very different from the issues caused by CCoV and FCoV in pets. While there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to humans, there have been confirmed reports of animals catching the disease from being in contact with humans that had COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed several cases of infection in the United States- eight big cats residing in zoos, three domestic cats, and one dog. Although the possibility your pet will catch the disease is unlikely, the chances of it happening are still there. Therefore, protect your furry friends by practicing social distancing with them as well as with humans if you display any symptoms of COVID-19.
How to protect your four-legged friends
Experts recommend that anyone that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 has their pets cared for by another household member if possible. This may be difficult for people that rely on a service animal. In that case, make it a habit to wash yourself before and after every single interaction with them.
It is also suggested to keep your pets indoors as much as possible, especially outdoor cats that like to go on little adventures. If you are going to take your dogs out for a walk, be sure to keep them on a leash and avoid crowded places such as dog parks. There is not much scientific information on this novel virus, so it is important to take extra precautions by treating pets like they are your human family members.
Daly, N. (2020, June 4). A German shepherd is first dog in the U.S. to test positive for the coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/06/first-dog-to-test-positive-in-us-for-coronavirus/#close
Gollakner, R. (n.d.). Canine Coronavirus Disease. Retrieved from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/coronavirus-disease-in-dogs
Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) RT-PCR. (2020, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/veterinary-support/disease-information/feline-coronavirus
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