Is coronavirus dangerous for your pet?

2021/02/22
Is coronavirus dangerous for your pet?
Protect yourself and your four-legged friend from infection

Many pet owners are currently concerned about what the corona pandemic will mean for them and for living with animals. Perhaps you are also asking yourself questions, for example whether the corona virus can be transmitted to your animal, what is your pet's care for in the event of illness and what you should now pay attention to in terms of hygiene. Here, pet owners can find out important information about Corona in pets.

Is corona dangerous for your pets?

The reassuring answer is no. So far, researchers have not found any evidence that SARS-CoV-2 infections occur in pets such as dogs and cats. In February this year, a case attracted press attention in which the novel coronavirus was detected in a dog. The owner was infected with the pathogen. The dog showed no symptoms of the disease. However, experts such as the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) and the Vetsuisse Faculty in Zurich do not see this evidence of coronaviruses in dogs as proof that they were infected or that they themselves excreted viruses. Rather, they suspect that the virus was detected as a result of contamination, so that it is very likely that it was not a "real" infection. This thesis is also supported by that a particularly sensitive test was used in the dog, which shows even the smallest amounts of virus. The experts assume that these small amounts probably came from the dog's environment. A recent Chinese study recently showed that cats and ferrets can be susceptible to the coronavirus under laboratory conditions, but the study does not confirm whether they are so under real conditions. The assumption that cats do not pass on the coronavirus infection under real conditions, on the other hand, underpins the investigation by virologist Prof. Hendrik Streeck: He examined the area around coronavirus infected people in the Heinsberg district and also took swabs from cats that were with the sick lived in the same household. As a result, not a single one of the animals examined was positive, even though the cats lived in a presumably highly contaminated environment. However, since the corona pandemic is a dynamic process, scientists are still carefully monitoring further developments. The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut has published a document on this topic that addresses the most important questions about Role of Pets and Covid-19 Answered.

Can pets transmit corona?

Research has so far given the all-clear on this question as well: According to FLI and other research institutions, there is no scientific evidence that dogs or cats can transmit the coronavirus to humans or that they are important for the spread of SARS-CoV-2. However, it makes sense - as with the general handling of pets - to ensure good hygiene in the household (especially hand washing).

What happens to my pet ​​if I have corona or have to be quarantined?

If you suspect Corona or you have a positive test result, it makes sense to ask another person to take care of your favorite. Dare yourself and ask neighbors, relatives or friends for support. It is ideal if you can then have your pet looked after for the entire duration of the quarantine. Remember to inform the caregiver if your four-legged friend needs special food or medication. Most veterinary practices are still open or offer appointments so that diet feed or veterinary medicines are available in sufficient quantities.

If you have Corona yourself and your pet is being looked after by someone else, the hygiene rules should be strictly adhered to. Because in addition to direct transmission, coronaviruses can also be transmitted indirectly through contaminated surfaces - animals from infected owners can thus - at least in theory - have small amounts of virus on their body that remain infectious for a few days.

If there is no care for your pet, professional pet care can also be a solution. If your pet has to stay at home during the quarantine, heed the recommended hygiene rules (see below). If your pet needs veterinary help during the quarantine at home, please contact your veterinarian by phone and inform him or her about your suspected infection or about your infection with SARS CoV 2.

Corona in dogs, cats and other pets

Coronavirus is not just coronavirus. Rather, a large group of viruses is hidden behind the term. The individual viruses in the group sometimes differ greatly from one another. You could compare it a bit with a family: closely related family members are similar and more often have common characteristics. It is different with distant relatives: The paternal great-uncle probably no longer has any obvious similarities with you or your children, although he belongs to the same family. There are also numerous coronaviruses in the animal world, to which, for example, fish, birds and many mammals are susceptible. However, these are completely different from the now rampant SARS-CoV-2.
Various coronavirus infections have also long been known to exist in dogs and cats. However, these are harmless to humans. The known diseases in pets that are triggered by coronaviruses include, for example, cats:

• FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Feline Corona Virus)

and with dogs:

• Canine Coronavirus (CCoV)

Feline coronavirus is widespread and does not cause symptoms in most cats. FIP, a serious disease that is usually fatal, can only develop in some cats through a mutation. The canine coronavirus can lead to mostly mild diarrheal diseases in dogs.

Protect yourself and your pet from Corona: hygiene is the be-all and end-all

The top priority for protection against the coronavirus - as well as against infections in general - is careful hygiene! If you are infected yourself or are grooming the dog of a SARS-CoV-2 infected person, good hand hygiene is essential, i.e. hand washing after every contact with your four-legged friend, its food or its excretions. Soap and water are completely sufficient. However, it is important to wash your hands for a long enough time (at least 30 seconds) and carefully soap all areas (thumb, finger spaces, back of the hand and palms). After rinsing off thoroughly, it makes sense to use paper towels to dry off. If these are not available, cloth towels are an alternative. However, these should be replaced frequently and only used by one person at a time. "Dog kiss" are taboo - avoid licking the dog! However, attention through games that hardly require contact are allowed: They strengthen the bond between humans and animals and bring variety and distraction, which is now good!

References:

Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI): www.fli.de
Animal Hospital of the University of Zurich: The new coronavirus: Information for animal owners Status: 03.03.20 https://www.tierspital.uzh.ch/dam/jcr:40e30d07-2c10-4bc2-af33-e7769007aa7e/COVID-19%20Information%20f%FCr%20Tierhalterinnen%20und%20Tierhalter.pdf )
World Animal Health Organization OIE (World Organization for Animal Health): Questions an Answers on the 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). www.oie.int ( https://www.oie.int/scientific-expertise/specific-information-and-recommendations/questions-and-answers-on-2019novel-coronavirus/ )
Chen, Hualan. "Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and different domestic animals to SARS-coronavirus-2." bioRxiv (2020)