COVID 19 and pets

Life is so surreal right now; it seems our entire world turned upside down.

Pets have always been special in our lives, but now they have an even more significant role. 

Coronaviruses are a large family. Some cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in certain types of animals, such as cattle, camels, and bats.

Some coronaviruses, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals and do not infect humans.

These are days of uncertainty. The exact cause of the virus hasn’t been found and there are few different theories and speculations.

Initially, when the outbreak happened, many people were concerned and animal shelters reported an increase in the numbers of pets being surrendered.

However, current research shows that interactions with pets is considered safe according to the current tests results.

“IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software, today announced that the company has seen no positive results in pets of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) respiratory outbreak in humans.

“IDEXX evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a new veterinary test system for the COVID-19 virus. The specimens used for test development and validation were obtained from specimens submitted to IDEXX Reference Laboratories for PCR testing.

“These new test results align with the current expert understanding that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted person-to-person and supports the recommendation against testing pets for the COVID-19 virus.

"For dogs or cats presenting with respiratory signs, the recommendation is to contact a veterinarian to test for more common respiratory pathogens.” (www.Idexx.com)

As the pandemic situation continues to develop and we are facing more and more restrictions, there has been an increase in people’s desire to adopt pets.

Pets can be an amazing aid in this terrible reality we live right now. Being restricted and homebound can elicit and promote depression and other mental-health challenges.

Besides keeping company while the social distancing is required, pets can be very soothing, mood lifting and distracting.

As well, keeping a pet can help one maintain a daily routine in a chaotic, apocalyptic reality that is our lives right now. 

Children's routines have been terribly disturbed and the prolonged confinement to home can be extremely stressful for both children and parents.

Pets can help regulate those anxiety feelings and also help curbing boredom. Having a dog is also another legitimate reason to get out of the house, take a walk and a breath of fresh air.

I am the biggest advocate of adopting animals and incorporating them in our family and lives. However, one must consider a few important factors.

Right now nothing is clear, no one knows what the future holds and how long our lives are going to be impacted by this pandemic, however, eventually this shall pass.

Adopting a pet is not a temporary solution for self-isolation distress, it’s a lifelong commitment.

  • Think about your normal life and routine, are they suitable for raising a pet?
  • What will life with a pet going to look like on the other side of this outbreak?

Think it through carefully as this is a long-term decision that will affect you for years.

Current researches show that raising a pet does not possess any potential harm and there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection.

However, the COVID 19 is a completely new territory in the medical field and the topic is still under massive exploration and research.

Until this disease is completely explored and under control, I urge pet owners to take safety measurements and are extra diligent regarding hygiene when dealing with their pets.

  • Wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies.
  • Practise good pet hygiene and clean up after pets properly.
  • Take pets to the veterinarian regularly and talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s health.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
  • Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.

Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.

If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.


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About the Author

Dr. Moshe Oz owns Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, a small animal veterinary practice in West Kelowna.

Dr. Oz has deep love and affection for animals. It was his childhood dream to become a veterinarian, a dream that he has fulfilled when he graduated with honours from KUVM,on 2006. Dr. Oz's special interest is internal medicine and surgery.

In his free time Dr. Oz enjoys training and racing triathlons, including the legendary Penticton's Ironman.

Dr. Oz can be contacted through his website: www.KelownaVet.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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