For those who have pets like cats and dogs, it will come as a relief to know that there isn’t any evidence they can spread COVID-19 or coronavirus to people.
When the World Health Organization posted the finding, the predictable but kinda funny headlines of “WHO let the dogs out” followed on social media.
— Sam Geraci (@AmFamSamGeraci) March 11, 2020
Although a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive for coronavirus, scientists later determined pets don’t get sick from the virus. However, they can have low levels of the pathogen after being exposed to it by their owners.
In this case, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department advised that pets in households where people are sick with coronavirus should quarantine their dogs or cats.
Unfortunately, concern about possible infection from pets has led to abandoning pets in China. However, the threat from pets appears to be extremely low. Rather than panicking and abanding pets, some common sense is all that’s required.
Below, the disturbing video shows how some in China have panicked and created a crisis for their pets. (Warning: Graphic content)
So, although “WHO let the dogs out,” they also state that avoiding contact with animals or surfaces in contact with animals is advisable in “animal markets.”
“To protect yourself, such as when visiting live animal markets, avoid direct contact with animals and surfaces in contact with animals. Ensure good food safety practices at all times. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care to avoid contamination of uncooked foods and avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products,” states the WHO website.
Today, Science interviewed Shelley Rankin, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia. Rankin suggests the Hong Kong case is an isolated case, but can’t rule out that more cases like it could arise.
When asked if we should quarantine our pets if we get sick, Rankin answered:
“Yes, just like humans, some might be quarantined at a hospital. Or a shelter. Or even a doggy daycare,” said Rankin. “If they had the virus but weren’t sick, you could quarantine them at home. You’d want to limit your contact with them. Perhaps keep them in a bedroom away from other people and animals. You’d want to wash your hands frequently, and perhaps wear a mask when you entered the room.”
Thus, it’s not entirely clear, yet if pets can serve as a reservoir for the virus. Therefore, some due caution is advisable if you get sick.
Also, it’s a good idea to make your pets part of your preparedness planning. If you are fighting the virus, you may need extra food on hand for both you and your pets.
“If you get sick and are quarantined, you should make sure you have extra pet food on hand. And you should make your neighbors aware of any feeding, walking, or medications that your pets need in case you can’t make it back home. Get prepared now. I live alone with my cat. I have extra food on hand. Even if he doesn’t need it [soon], he’s going to eat it eventually,” said Rankin.
Considering all this, don’t panic or make your pet wear a mask, which could harm your pet. See more about pets and coronavirus from The Guardian:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube