There is no doubt that the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is causing stress and anxiety throughout the world. While it may be difficult to see a silver lining amid the pandemic, pet owners can relax, knowing their furry friends do not seem to be involved in disease transmission. At Urgent Pet Care Omaha, we know the future is uncertain, but when it comes to your pets, you can rest a little easier. Consider these three reasons why you don’t need to panic:

#1: Coronaviruses don’t typically jump from species to species

The novel coronavirus belongs to a broad family of viruses that cause various diseases in people, pets, and wildlife. In general, individual coronaviruses tend to stick to one type of animal, and rarely cross over to infect other species. This phenomenon, known as a “zoonotic jump,” occurred on three separate occasions, when a coronavirus originating in bats caused disease in people, but these events are rare, and not fully understood. The following coronaviruses succeeded in this process:

  • SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV, which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • MERS-CoV, which causes middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS)

Dogs and cats are affected by their own species-specific coronaviruses, which do not cause disease in people or other animals, as far as we know. Click on the links below to learn more about these infections in pets. 

#2: Early testing suggests that COVID-19 is not a concern in pets

No pets showing signs of the novel coronavirus have been reported, but testing still is underway to monitor how this disease may affect domestic animals, such as dogs and cats. One of the veterinary industry’s leading diagnostic companies, IDEXX, has been testing thousands of dogs and cats and, so far, the ongoing study has not detected any positive COVID-19 cases, which is extremely reassuring.

You may have read some articles about dogs testing positive in China. These reports indicate that the dogs showed no coronavirus disease signs, and that both lived with infected owners, who likely were shedding high volumes of the virus in the home. This suggests that while pets can potentially harbor the virus, they do not contract disease. Furthermore, no evidence has been found that suggests these pets were able to transmit the virus to other people. 

#3: Pets are unlikely to act as COVID-19 vehicles

We are still in the early stages of understanding COVID-19 transmission. Most infections seem to occur when a person comes in direct contact with a respiratory droplet from a sick individual, and inhales a droplet. Transmission can also occur if a droplet falls onto a surface that a susceptible person touches and contaminates her hands, and she then touches her mouth, nose, or eyes, and infection results. Preliminary studies indicate that the novel coronavirus can live for 24 hours to 17 days on certain surfaces, including counter tops, door knobs, cloth, and perhaps animal fur; however, the virus appears to disfavor porous surfaces like the two latter items, indicating that our pets are not likely to be primary disease vehicles. That said, we advise all pet owners to exercise caution, and to keep pets home, whenever possible. If your service animal must accompany you in public, disinfect all collars and leashes, and the harness, when you return home. If your pet comes into contact with someone who is sick, or she has been in a public place, consider bathing her, or at least washing her feet, before coming indoors. 

Fortunately, domestic pets do not appear currently to play a role in the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, the situation is rapidly evolving, and we vow to keep you abreast of any changes in how COVID-19 may affect your furry family members.

At Urgent Pet Care Omaha, we are dedicated to your pet’s health, and we are continuing to offer services at this time. Please read our COVID-19 update for information regarding our new protocols and, as always, contact us with any questions or concerns.