The entire world is facing a pandemic with COVID-19. As countries around the world begin to shut down and call for quarantines, social distancing, panic is expected – it’s hard not to. Like many of the other viruses we have seen spread, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was originally an animal virus that mutated to jump from animal to human. And then, very quickly, mutated again to be passed from human to human.
Due to this, it’s easy to see why some people have panicked, abandoning pets out of fears of them transmitting the COVID-19 virus. However, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization maintains that there is no evidence that any pet – including dogs and cats – can transmit COVID-19.
THIS IS DESPITE THE REPORTS THAT A DOG DIED OF COVID-19 IN CHINA ON MARCH 16.
The dog’s owner had COVID-19 (she has recovered and is home). The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong said the dog tested a WEAK POSTIVE from swabs of its nose and mouth (meaning low quantities of the virus were found) for COVID-19 on February 26. The dog was taken from its owner and put in quarantine. It was tested five more times after that and came up negative each time.
After the standard 14 days, the dog was returned to the owner because it was testing negative. The dog passed away two days after being returned home.
The dog was a Pomeranian that was 17-years-old. Authorities said there is no evidence the dog died from COVID-19. There have also been reports the dog had prior illnesses before the positive test – not to mention 17 is old for a Pomeranian. The owner declined an autopsy.
From the World Health Organization:
While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly. WHO continues to monitor the latest research on this and other COVID-19 topics and will update as new findings are available.
World Small Animal Veterinary Association is advising people to continue to wash their hands when interacting with pets (of course this should be common hygiene practice anyway).
COVID-19 Preparedness Planning For Those With Pets
All over the world shortages in stores are being seen as people beginning to stockpile. While out shopping, do not forget about your animals at home, they should be part of your planning.
Be sure to have enough non-perishable food on hand for a few weeks, in case you get quarantined. If you happen to own animals beside dogs that need fresh food, like rabbits for example, some are planting gardens (even a windowsill can provide space enough for some herbs and veggies) to feed small pets.
In addition to food, you should treat this as any other debacle, and have the following items in place:
- In the event you are hospitalized, be sure to have someone lined up to take care of your pets while you are gone.
- Make sure all tags and microchips are current on your pets, in the event they are separated from you.
- Make sure your pets are up-to-date on vaccines.
- Keep up your hygiene practices at home. The COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces, including your pets’ fur, so keep doing your duty by washing your hands and cleaning surfaces regularly.
Finally, hug your pets! They are the best therapy and, for people stuck at home, they may be their only company for many weeks. We will get through this together stay safe!