Can Dogs, Cats, Pets Get And Spread Covid-19 Coronavirus?
Perhaps you can blame your dog for a fart even when you may have actually been the root of the toot. But can you blame your dog for giving you the Covid-19 coronavirus?
If your dog were to respond, “dude, where’s your proof,” finding the data to support your blame could be “ruff.” According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website “based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”
In fact, there is more evidence of the opposite direction: that humans can pass the infection to other animals. As another CDC website indicates, “a small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.” In other words, you may be able to give the Covid-19 coronavirus to your pets but your risk of getting the Covid-19 coronavirus from your pets is still unclear. More data is needed to tell whether the New Radicals song “You Get What You Give” necessarily applies to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) when it comes to you and your pets
Keep in mind that these websites are mainly addressing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission between you and animals that you may normally encounter such as your pets. The “low risk” statement doesn’t address more unusual encounters such as engaging in a rave with woodchucks or turning your house into a Batcave by filling it with 5,000 bats. In general, having bats as pets even if you are Batman is not a great idea. Moreover, the SARS-CoV2 is genetically similar to viruses that have infected Rhinolophus bats prior to pandemic, suggesting that the SARS-CoV2 somehow made its way from bats to humans.
A fact sheet from the World Organization for Animal Health lists different animals and their estimated susceptibility to SARS-CoV2 infections. These assessments are based largely on experimental data along with some case reports. The list doesn’t include every animal out there. So if you are wondering about the safety of that wombat doing your laundry, the evidence may not be there yet:
According to the list, among animals that you may see on a farm, American minks, rabbits, and racoon dogs have high susceptibility. Now racoon dogs are a bit like television presenters Cat Deeley and Bear Grylls and the singer Seal. Cat Deeley is not really a cat. Bear Grylls is not really a bear. Seal is not really a seal. And racoon dogs are actually more like foxes than racoons.
As I have reported previously for Forbes, Covid-19 coronavirus outbreaks have occurred at mink farms. There has been evidence of minks transmitting the virus to humans as well.
By contrast, Old Macdonald may have less of an issue with other inhabitants. Cattle and pigs seem to have low susceptibility. And the fact sheet reports no evidence of poultry catching the Covid-19 coronavirus as of September 2020.
Among companion animals, dogs seem to have the upper hand, or the upper paw, on cats. Dogs appear to have low susceptibility to the Covid-19 coronavirus, while cats seem to have high susceptibility. Moreover, cats have been able to pass the virus to each other.
Other animals listed as having high susceptibility include Egyptian fruit bats, Golden Syrian hamsters, marmosets, and macaques. So if you are thinking of quarantining with 50 marmosets or 1,287 Golden Syrian hamsters, reconsider your plans. Large cats like lions and tigers fall under medium to high susceptibility. Fruit bats have passed along the virus to each other. So have large cats, Egyptian fruit bats, and macaques but not a partridge in a pear tree. This is yet another reason why macaques shouldn’t hold in person Happy Hours in bars right now.
So what do you do if some of your friends have more fur, scales, or legs than you do? Treat them as you would humans. Social distance from them unless you are already in a social bubble together. That means if you see a puppy or kitten on the street, don’t start saying, “oh you are so cute little itty bitty one. Give me a hug.” Instead, keep your distance, use your fingers to form the shape of a heart on your chest, and say, “you had me at wuff, or meow.”
At the same time, keep your companion animals at least six feet away from others at all times. That’s between six and 12 hedgehogs apart. Since you can’t be sure where your pets may go if they roam outside (e.g., to the park, other backyards, or the strip club), keep them indoors as much as possible.
Don’t put face masks on pets. They may not know how to wear them safely and could end up eating them, which is not good for them. If other people say, “see your dog is not wearing a face mask, so why should I,” toss those people a dog treat and ask them whether they ever try to pee on fire hydrants.
Do not try to spray your pet with Lysol or any other chemical disinfectant. Your pet is not your kitchen table. And definitely don’t allow a situation where such disinfectants may get into your pet’s eyes, mouth, nose, or body. Your pet may be thinking, “who the heck would recommend putting disinfectants inside the body?” Hand sanitizer doesn’t belong on pets either. First of all, it’s not paw sanitizer. Secondly, they could end up licking it or smearing it on other parts of their bodies.
If you are sick with Covid-19 stay away from other animals. Have someone else take care of your dog, cat, or hedgehog. Don’t pet, snuggle, share noodles, or canoodle with other animals. Wear a face mask and wash your hands thoroughly if you are going to be anywhere near other animals. Zooming with other animals is OK as long as you are not in the same room and you are fine with being put on mute frequently by them.
If you are going to take your pet to the vet for any reason, make sure that the veterinarian’s office practices good Covid-19 coronavirus precautions. Call in advance to check their procedures. Oh, at this point, the available Covid-19 vaccines are specifically for humans. Do not dress up your pets to look like people so that they can get the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. The health care professional giving the vaccine may say, “hmmm, your ID says, Dr. Arf Arf. But why do you keep repeating your name?”