The year 2020 has brought with it a global pandemic which has proved that every single human being in the world is susceptible to getting infected by it. But what about animals? A lot has been stated and often misrepresented about how this global emergency is affecting animals after a few cases of its spread were reported. Of-course, it would be alarming to know if there are chances of Covid-19 getting spread from animals to humans but it is always better to validate them with facts which could help to burst the related myths.
Let us try to answer some of the questions with facts and testify whether Covid-19 transfers from human to animal or vice versa.
How many cases have been reported in Animals so far? What has been the take of concerned agencies?
The 1st two reported cases include a 17-year-old Pomeranian dog in Hong-Kong which was initially tested weakly positive for SARS-COVID-2, showing no symptoms of illness and later tested negative after being placed under quarantine. Another was a German shepherd dog again in Hong-Kong, which was tested positive and kept in quarantine. He seems to have got it transferred from his owner who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier. Later, a Tigress and her 6 inmates were tested positive in the Bronx Zoo in New York City, who got infected by an asymptomatic zookeeper. In all these cases, owners seem to have transferred Covid-19 to their pets. To date, there is no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.
After going through the reports submitted by the Agriculture, Fish & conservation department (AFCD), these pets (Pomeranian and the GSD) were found very weakly positive (low-level infection) for COVID-19, which suggests the least possibility of transfer from human to animal and vice-versa.
As for the tiger and other six cats, the reports given by CDC (US Center for Disease Control & Prevention) state that there is no such evidence yet that pets can spread COVID-19 to humans.
Can you get Covid-19 from pets or other animals?
At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to humans or that they can be a source of infection. Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These cannot infect humans and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals.
The World Health Organization also stated that there is “no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19”.
Do you need to get your pet tested for Coronavirus?
No. At this time, routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not recommended.
What should be the care one should take while at home?
If you are infected with COVID-19 then you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would do around other humans. If you need to care of your pet or be around your pet while you are sick, then ensure that you continue maintaining good hygiene like wearing masks at all times, washing hands before and after interacting with your pet, etc.
If you are sick with COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinary clinic yourself. Call your veterinarian and let them know you have been sick with COVID-19. Some veterinarians may offer telemedicine consultations or other alternate plans for seeing sick pets. Your veterinarian can evaluate your pet and determine the next steps for your pet’s treatment and care.
Can animals carry viruses on their fur or skin coat that cause COVID-19?
Although we know that certain bacteria and fungi can be carried on fur and hair, there is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets. However, because animals can sometimes carry other germs that can make people sick, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets.
Can you walk your dog outside?
Walking a dog is important for animal health and well-being. One can walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) distance from other humans and animals. Do not gather in groups, and stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. To help maintain social distancing, do not let other people pet your dog when you are out for a walk.
From where can you get your Pet Food and Essentials during the lockdown?
All pet shops are open and are covered under essential commodities. However, one needs to understand their operational hours or if required, they can reach out to local veterinarians over the phone for contacts.
What about grooming services for Pets during Covid-19?
Professional Grooming is not covered under essential services, however, basic grooming can be taken care of individual pet parents at their respective homes with the guidance of their vet or regular groomers over phone.
Hence, if you have pets, there is no scientific reason to remove these little poochies out of your sight in these difficult times. Rather, we suggest having yourself prepared with at least two weeks’ of your pet’s food and any needed medications. This is essential in case of quarantine or self-isolation when you cannot leave your home.