Update on Pets and Covid-19, the Current Facts

Hello all, we at Mayne Vets hope you are all keeping well and safe in these very strange times.  We thought it might be helpful, following some quite alarming headlines this morning, to give you an update of what we know about COVID-19 and pet transmission; and what any new information might show in the coming weeks.   

What we DO Know about pets and COVID-19 

  • Pets can carry the virus on their coat and collars for an unknown amount of time after being in contact with an infected human 
  • With over a million humans infected by the virus so far, there have been a few, isolated cases of pets testing positive for the virus.  In all cases it is likely transmission was from human to pet  
  • No dogs have shown symptoms of the disease, some cats (and one tiger!) may have shown some symptoms 
  • No pet has died from Covid illness  

What we MIGHT know about pets and COVID-19 

There are some studies in the process of being completed that indicate some new information.  It is important to realise these studies have not been peer reviewed or published yet.  Therefore, it is not clear the information is 100% accurate, however, advice is being updated based on the information as a precaution. 

  • There is some evidence that a small proportion of cats in the Wuhan area have developed antibodies to Covid-19, which would indicate they have carried the virus long enough to form an immune response to the virus 
  • There is some evidence that experimentally infected cats shed some virus in respiratory secretions 
  • There may be different responses in cats and dogs.  Cats seem slightly more prone to carrying the virus than dogs. 

How does that effect our advice? 

To be 100% clear there is still absolutely no evidence that pets can transit the virus to humans.  However, we should accept that, if these studies prove to be correct and repeatable, there is a chance a cat can pose a risk to a human other than just via contact with their coat.  Regardless of whether this turns out to be true or not, it is human-human transmission that has caused this pandemic, not pet cats!!  So, what is the updated advice from the British Veterinary Association: 

Basically, as we all do, to treat your pets as an extension of your family. 

In that way, if you are in an infected household, you should, where possible, be isolating your pets with your family.  If possible and if your cat is happy to stay indoors, keep them indoors.  However, forcing some cats to stay indoors against their will can cause stress related disease, so if your cat is not happy to stay indoors, do not force the issue.   

Otherwise, try to remember pets are our family members, the 2-metre social isolation rule applies to them as much as it does to us.   

  • Try not to stroke dogs and cats that do not belong to your household 
  • Do not feed cats or encourage them to enter your house if they do not belong to your household 
  • Practice good hand hygiene after stroking your own dog or cat, especially if you have a cat that is going outdoors and possibly into other households 

We hope this has helped.  We will continue to try to bring you up to date facts regarding the Covid situation as it develops.  Obviously, this is a new disease and information will carry on emerging as further studies are done but try not to let the over dramatic headlines dominate!  Remember human to human transmission is and will always be the major area of concern. 

Finally, stay safe, stay home and remember we are here for you if you need us.   

Best wishes, 

The Team at Mayne Vets 

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