We have been following COVID-19 with care. One reason, our adopted Chihuahua. Dexter has atopic dermatitis, which means he already has an over-reacting immune system. And of course, with this new virus, the question has come. Can my dog or cat get it? It turns out that cats may. And you might have heard about the Bronx Zoo tiger that got it from an employee. And it was not just one cat. It seems large cats have a serious case of the sniffles.
However, it is not clear if companion animals can get it. We have some anecdotal information regarding this. A few dogs got it in Hong Kong and were placed in quarantine. One got it in Belgium. Yet, the World Health Organization says that so far our companions should be safe. But we have some limited studies that tell us that cats may be susceptible to the virus, more than dogs.
There are still many unanswered questions about the novel coronavirus, but this week, new and surprising information about the transmission of the virus was revealed: A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive — and health officials say she caught it from a zoo employee who had COVID-19, but was asymptomatic. The big cat is expected to recover, but its diagnosis worried many pet owners. Could their feline friends get the virus, too?
Researchers in China say they’ve determined that domestic cats are susceptible to airborne infection with the coronavirus. In a new study published in Science, scientists from Harbin Veterinary Research Institute intentionally exposed groups of cats, dogs, ferrets, pigs, chickens and ducks to the virus, and found some animals are more susceptible than others.
Fortunately for dogs, the researchers found that man’s best friend has a low susceptibility to the virus. Livestock including pigs, chickens, and ducks also did not appear to be significantly affected by it.
We also suspect that Ferrets could catch it. And this should be no surprise at all. We know that the virus jumped from the pangolin to bats, to humans. This is what is called a zoonotic disease. And to be honest, for it to jump from you to your domestic animals and back should not be too shocking.
So what should you do?
If you get it, definitely keep your distance from your dog or cat. And when you take your animals out for a walk, they also need to observe social distancing from other people, or pets. Even though we have little evidence that dogs can get it, keep them and you safe. As for cats…there is a little more information that perhaps they can get it. Whether they can give it back to us is a good question. This is a zoonotic disease, so better assume such and be safe.
As to Dexter, he is a happy go lucky pup that needs shirts to be less itchy. Who also gets daily baths and walks. He sleeps with us and alerts when needed. He is a good dog, living a dog’s life. But we will continue to follow this because I do not want to give it to the pooch. Nor do I want to get it from a pet. And in his case, we need to keep him as healthy as we can.