by Heather Knowles
Thee coronavirus and our Pets
There have been a lot of assumptions as to what caused the start of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, which has taken the world by a deadly storm. More than once, animals have been blamed. And while there could be some truth to that (bats are being examined at the moment), the domesticated animal, our house pets, the furry members of our family are the last ones that should be looked at.
A key fact from the World Health Organization States:
At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats, can spread the disease or be infected with the new coronavirus. However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets. This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.
And if you, or someone in your immediate family is diagnosed with COVID-19 or the coronavirus, limit your interaction with your pet. This restricts the contact your pet has with the virus which is the same thing you would do with a person. However, if that is not possible, the infected person should wear a face mask and wash their hands thoroughly both before and after feeding, walking and interacting with their pet. Soap and water when washing your hands are the most effective way for getting rid of germs, but if you need to use a hand sanitizer, make sure you are a) using the correct amount of it and b) that it contains at least 60% of alcohol to ensure that it is does the most germ fighting possible.
As more information of the coronavirus becomes available, we have realized that there is a slim possibility that our companion animals can catch COVID-19. However, they have more of a chance of catching the virus from us, than we do from them. In order to understand how that can happen, we first must understand how the virus is spread.
The most common way to spread the virus is through droplets—droplets come from when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. This is why social distancing, keeping a distance of six feet between ourselves and others when we are out in public, is the most effective way of keeping the virus at bay. That and don’t touch your face. The virus can live up to three days on hard surfaces, although it seems to pass through soft surfaces really quickly. Now that you’ve read that, you want to scratch your nose, don’t you? (I just did, but I’ll go wash my hands and face as soon as I’m done. Promise.)
If your pet seems out of sorts, take it to a veterinarian. And if by the slimmest of chances, it does have COVID-19, odds are the veterinarian will want to quarantine your animal. How do you take care of an animal in quarantine? Don’t let it sleep with you like you might normally. Don’t kiss it. Wash your hands before and after each interaction including feeding and the cleaning up of litter boxes and waste. Wear a mask whenever possible. And the most important thing to remember: there have been no known cases of the infection spreading from a companion animal to a human.
Care for a sick pet as you would a sick family member, because after all, they are family.