Myths and misinformation: Should I be worried about my pet during #Covid-19? 1 year ago

Myths and misinformation: Should I be worried about my pet during #Covid-19?

There are plenty of things to be concerned about at the moment.

But should the health and safety of our pets be one of them?

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This week has seen a lot of confusion and concern around the relation between Covid-19 and domestic animals, after reports that two pet cats had tested positive for coronavirus in the US.

The cases of coronavirus in the cats is believed to be unrelated and the pets are expected to make a full recovery, but the news sparked fresh concerns regarding animals' role in the spread of the virus, and whether we should be concerned about having contact with our pets.

Thankfully, CyberPet's Leo Wilson is here to set the record straight and dispel any myths and misinformation that have been travelling around WhatsApp groups or Facebook comment sections about coronavirus and our pets.

At the moment, there are still many things that we don't know about how the virus operates and what it means for animals, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be taking current evidence at face value - and avoid jumping to conclusions.

So, can pets catch coronavirus? 

In short, yes. There have been limited reports of pets and other animals testing positive for Covid-19, including a tiger from a zoo in the Bronx and the aforementioned two pet cats. 

A canine coronavirus vaccine already exists for dogs in the US, but Leo says that this vaccine does not protect pets from Covid-19.

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"Many dogs receive the canine coronavirus vaccine during puppyhood or routine vaccinations," he says.

"This vaccine protects against enteric coronavirus and is not likely to provide any protection against this novel form of coronavirus which attacks the respiratory system."

Can my pet transmit coronavirus? 

There is no evidence to suggest that pets can transmit Covid-19 to humans.

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"However," says Leo, "the novel coronavirus can stay active on surfaces for extended periods and it may be possible for your pet to transmit the virus the same way it can be transmitted on doorknobs and shopping carts."

Does my pet need to be quarantined if I'm sick? 

"Due to the unlikely chance that your pet might be able to transmit the virus, health officials have recommended quarantining your pet if you do fall ill," says Leo.

"They should be kept in the house with you, though it is preferable that another member of the household care for them while you are isolated to a separate area of the home."

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However, if you do contract Covid-19, you should limit your contact with your pet as much as possible.

Avoid cuddling, petting, or getting licked by your pet. If possible, get a healthy person in the household to look after your pet while you maintain your distance.

If you cannot walk your dog, Leo suggests training alternative routines, such as puppy pads or artificial grass pads. Make use of treat balls, training games, and other indoor pet games to keep your pet active and stimulated in the event that you can't leave the house.

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How can I keep my pet healthy in general? 

Pets are more likely to get sick due to changes in routine or stressful situations, however there are certain steps you can take to minimise your cat's or dog's chance of becoming unwell during the pandemic.

Make sure to keep feeding your pet a quality diet, as well as exercising your pet as much as possible. This will reduce their stress levels and make it far less likely that they will need to see a vet.

"Vets also recommend making sure they are up to date on their vaccines," says Leo, "especially those meant to protect from other respiratory diseases."

As well as this, if you are worried about your own health, you should talk to your neighbours and friends about potentially caring for your pets in the event that you become unwell, or are hospitalised.

"Post instructions for their care in your house where they can be easily seen," says Leo. "But most importantly, try to enjoy your extra time home with your furry friends while you have it."

You can find out more information, or check out CyberPet's infographic about caring for your pet during Covid-19, here.