Can animals get coronavirus is a question we looked at in our article on COVID-19 in animals. In short, they can. Cats, dogs and several other species have been infected. The good news is cats and dogs generally have mild symptoms if any at all.
In part two, we looked into a COVID-19 vaccination for pets and discussed whether we need to consider it. Yes, this kind of vax is in development. But for now, at least, you don’t need to get one for your cat or dog.
Now that the umpteenth wave of the pandemic has well and truly reached our shores, is there anything new we need to know about coronavirus and pets? We thought it was time for an update…
Coronavirus Australia and pet safety
Coronavirus variants in pets are nothing new, but the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is. Research is being done daily to explore what potential implications there might be down the line. Back in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tweeted that nearly 100 pets in the U.S had tested positive.
Since then many more cases have been confirmed yet, compared to humans, testing on animals has only been done on a relatively small scale. So it’s early days.
However – we now know that one in about five pets will catch the disease from their owners.
Next, let’s move on to the Delta variant…
Coronavirus update on the Delta variant
When it comes to Delta, cases have so far been confirmed in zoo lions. Lions were susceptible to other COVID-19 variants too, just like cats and dogs. Whether that means domestic cats will get the Delta variant is something we’ll need to wait on more research before we know.
Cats tend to experience a higher rate of the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19, than dogs. But rest assured that symptoms are generally mild, and the CDC says “the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is considered to be low.”
When asking can animals get coronavirus, the biggest concern to understand for cats and dogs is them being infected by humans. Pet owners who test positive should be vigilant in practicing good hygiene and social distancing around their cats and dogs, like we do with people.
Watch this video for some of the latest research:
Can animals get Coronavirus? Yes, but you can help
If you’re sick, or someone you’ve been around is sick, you’ll need to take the following actions to protect your pet:
- Get a pet sitter or similar. While you self-isolate, someone else in your home (or a neighbour, friend, or family member) should look after your pet until you’re in the clear.
- Practice social distancing. Avoid all contact with your pet during this time and stay a good 1.5m away, ideally much more. Sadly, that means no snuggling or patting. You should also keep them apart from other pets in the world outside.
- Practice exemplary hygiene. If you don’t have anyone who can care for your pet, wear a mask at all times and wash your hands before and after you feed them or interact with them.
If you’re worried your pet has COVID-19, don’t take them into the vet. Instead, phone or email to find out what your vet recommends. In most cases of COVID-19 in animals home care is the best method of recovery.
Other ways animals can get coronavirus
Because humans passing on the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen to their companion animals is still so new, scientists are still learning how it affects our pets. In the meantime, the CDC shares the following advice for protecting pets from possible infection:
- Pets should stay indoors where possible
- If outside, they should keep well within your property boundaries
- Never put a mask on your pet, as it can make them distressed and inhibit their breathing
- Avoid large gatherings of people
And of course, once you’re vaccinated your pet will also be safer.
It’s best to always practice safe hygiene during the pandemic as this protects you and your pet, whether either of you is sick or not. Check out the CDC website for updates to their guidelines.
Pet insurance for cats and dogs
Before COVID-19, it would’ve been hard to imagine global lockdowns and social distancing. If it seems difficult taking precautions with pets, just remind yourself you’re preventing the spread of a very new virus. Also remember that a range of future consequences might still be discovered.
And because prevention is better than cure for all things medical, but planning for the worst is also essential, the best gift you can give your pet is pet insurance. Find out what benefits are included in our pet insurance plans.