UPDATE – Information on COVID19 and Pets

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“Corona virus” is a broad term that covers many different strains of virus. Most animal species, including cows, pigs, camels, chickens, mice, rats, cats, and dogs, have a species-specific version of “corona virus”.

Dogs are susceptible to two kinds of corona virus. Canine Respiratory Coronavirus (CRCoV) causes upper respiratory symptoms including coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. There is no vaccine for CRCoV. Dogs can also get Canine Coronavirus (CCoV) which causes diarrhea. There is a vaccine for CCoV. Both of these only infect dogs and can not be transmitted to humans.

Cats are susceptible to Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) which causes diarrhea. In a limited number of cases, FCoV can develops into the disease Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which can be fatal. There is a vaccine for FCoV but it has not been shown to be effective and it is not recommend for typical housecats. FCoV only infects cats and can not be transmitted to humans.

Humans are susceptible to 7 different kinds of coronavirus. Four versions cause mild symptoms associated with the ‘commom cold’ and rarely require medical treatment. The other three variants are MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and the cause of the current pandemic SARS-CoV2, which is also known as COVID19.

Because the term ‘coronavirus’ is so broad, there has been some confusion in the media about “Can pets get coronvirus?”. And yes, pets can get their own species-specific version of corona virus. However, there is no evidence that pets can get COVID19. Given that as of March 30 there are over 720,000 human cases worldwide, it is safe to assume that if COVID19 caused disease in pets, we would know by now. Also, in the month of March, Idexx Laboratories evaluated thousands of specimens (submitted by veterinary clinics from across the country) from dogs and cats and found zero positive results.

What pet owners do need to be concerned about having their pet become a ‘contaminated object’ and spread the COVID19 virus from person to person. If an infected person coughs, sneezes, or handles a pet it is possible for them to leave active virus on the pet’s fur. If a non-infected person then handles the pet, they can pick up the virus and become infected. At this time, the experts think the virus can survive on pet fur for up to 6 hours. Your pets should be staying at home and participating in “social distancing” with you!

Be safe, stay home, and keep your pets home too. And go wash your hands.