COVID-19 and Pets – What You Need to Know

Coronavirus. COVID-19. Through the last few weeks, you’ve been hearing these words over and over. You’ve been reading countless news articles, listening to broadcasts, and hearing it brought up in countless conversations between friends and family. You’ve likely seen it interfere with your life, as businesses start to close down. The jobs and health of your loved ones may have been affected already. Indeed, this is the topic of interest in the public consciousness right now. Like it or not, it’s important to be informed about the global pandemic we’re currently experiencing.

And yet, despite how much we’re all thinking about COVID-19, there still remain countless questions about the virus. Research is being done every day to analyze every facet of the virus, from potential cures to statistically-sound infection rates. But as a pet owner, there’s probably one very important question you have on your mind: how does the coronavirus affect animals, if at all?

This is a very good question, and we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll explore what is currently known about COVID-19 and pets. Please note that we’re not professional virologists. As veterinarians, we know a whole lot about animal health, but it’s important to remember that this information could change at any moment, and it’s still being heavily researched. With that being said, let’s look at the most important things to know about COVID-19 and pets:

COVID-19 Likely Originated From Animals

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, which means that its origin is traced back to animals. We can’t empirically state where the virus originated from, but the prevailing theory is that this strain came from bats. Street markets are highly prevalent in China, where the virus initially broke out, and it’s speculated that COVID-19 was a coronavirus in bats that mutated to animal-to-human transmission.

However, don’t be alarmed. Just because the virus originated from an animal doesn’t mean that all other animals are equally affected, or capable of carrying it. Every single animal has a unique biological makeup, so unless the virus continues to mutate, its bat-based origin shouldn’t be considered an omen for your pets. And that brings us to our next point:

There Are No Signs That Pets Can Catch or Spread the Virus

Let’s get the most important one out of the way: as of this blog post’s writing, there is currently no indication that COVID-19 spreads to animals, your pets included.

However, despite the fact that we’ve not yet discovered a link, anything can change. The CDC’s official website notes that studies are continually being done to ascertain how COVID-19 interacts with pets, and it implores everyone to be careful and cautious.

But, if this information is true, it’s good news. It means that your pets will be safe from the pandemic, even if it spreads through your home. It is theoretically possible for animals to catch human viruses and act as carriers, despite not showing symptoms themselves, but thankfully this has not happened yet with COVID-19.

But, We Should Still Be Careful Around Our Pets

While there have been no known links between COVID-19 and animals, that doesn’t mean that this information is 100% reliable or bulletproof. Viruses are tricky; much of what we know about them depends on how much we’re able to test, and it’s also possible for them to mutate. Even though there’s no evidence that suggests pet infection, that doesn’t mean we should lower our guards.

If you don’t have coronavirus, it’s mostly business as usual with your pets, with the added caveat of extra hand-washing. Feel free to take them on walks (but not to crowded areas!), play with them, and snuggle with them as usual. When you’re done, wash your hands with soap and water, and everyone should be just fine.

If you or someone else in the household catches COVID-19, it’s recommended that you exercise caution around your animals. The data suggests that you won’t pass it on to them, but on the other hand, there’s still so much we don’t know about this virus. It’s better to err on the side of caution. So, while you’re sick, avoid close contact with your pets. Let someone else do the walking and caretaking, if possible. Avoid close-and-personal play sessions, and so on.

We Can All Do Our Part to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

COVID-19, being a novel coronavirus, is something that our bodies haven’t dealt with before. Because it’s a fairly unknown quantity, the best thing we can do is take precautionary measures to prevent its spread. Sure, pets may not be vulnerable to the virus, but that could ostensibly change, and in the meantime, we do know that other parties are at risk, such as the elderly and immunocompromised. More than anything, it’s important that we all do our part in preventing the spread.

Measures like social distancing and mass business closures might seem extreme, but the virus could wreak major havoc if we let it spiral out of control. Fortunately, the virus is pretty wimpy against good old-fashioned soap, and it won’t spread unless people are in close contact with each other. If we stay sanitized, frequently wash our hands, and avoid close contact with others, we have a chance of beating this thing. Sounds like a great time to stay at home and snuggle with your dogs and cats!

As for VetCare Pet Clinic, the future is unclear regarding COVID-19, and we’re taking it day by day. If you’re in need of veterinary care services, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to make an appointment with you, and if we do have to temporarily close down because of the virus, we will do our best to keep everyone informed. Stay safe out there!

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