Can animals get Covid?

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Table of Contents

The coronavirus originated at a market selling wild animals in Wuhan China. This news spread like a fire in the research market that animals can also contain the virus rather than only humans. The spread is more common in both. All novel pathogens in the human population must jump the species barrier from other animals. This is rare and can only occur when humans come into very close contact with animals and have highly flexible diseases.

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Destruction of habitats including those of wild animals and forcing animals to change their specific places of residence leads to more human and pet interaction.
Cats, dogs, and other pets can contract SARs CoV if they come into close contact with an infected pet or human. In order to live a normal life in the COVID outbreak, one must follow the precautionary measures assigned by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pet owners and veterinarian doctors.

According to the scientific research done on pet animals like cats and dogs, big cats are more at risk.  There are some documentaries based on pets at the time of the outbreak. National Geographic (NG) has a documentary where they handled tiger cubs during cub-petting excursions, and big cats potentially exposed the young animals to the virus.
SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 are mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets. If a person containing any contagious virus talks, coughs, sneezes, and another person inhales these droplets, it can lead to viral contact and one can develop COVID-19. Respiratory droplets that contain the virus can also be dispersed in the surroundings of a person. Although it is less common, the new coronavirus can also be transmitted through contact with a contaminated surface and followed by touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. Due to this, the use of food in packing material and disposable packaging is only advised after sanitizing the wrapping properly. However, according to the CDC, the risk of this happening is quite low.

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Cats and dogs are the most beloved animal pets that live with the pet owner. In an outbreak situation, the CDC has assigned certain precautionary measures to humans and animals to minimize fear and panic. Pets cannot die from the SARs virus if they are isolated after contact with germs.
Coronavirus resides on surfaces, its lifespan ranges from 2 hours to 9 days, and can be contracted easily because of its lifespan and the size of the nanoparticles. No virus can be seen with the naked eye.
However, we can conclude that Covid does not spread through pets to humans, the only thing that matters is hygiene and precautionary measures. If you follow the right hygiene regimen then there is no reason to worry about catching Covid through pets.

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Can animals get Covid?
Can animals get Covid?

What does it mean that coronaviruses are zoonotic? 

Zoonotic means any infectious disease spreading from animal to humans or vice versa. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, caused by the coronavirus, is a zoonotic disease. Some evidence is discussed in research journals i-e MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. However, several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that do not infect humans as yet.

Most of the diseases are spilled from wildlife reservoirs, either directly to humans or from domestic animals. Almost 75% of all emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) that affect human health in the worst way are zoonotic. The emergence of many can be attributed to some factors such as global travel, trade, agricultural expansion, deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and urbanization.  Such factors inherit the rate of contact between human, domestic animal, and wildlife organisms. These factors are creating increased opportunities for spillover events to occur more frequently in the habitat. 

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It is necessary to understand the ecology of a reservoir, its trade, and the social and cultural context of wildlife consumption. Emerging infectious diseases originating from wildlife populations will always threaten public health as output. 

Infectious disease emergence (EIDs) can be regarded as primarily an ecological process. In the case of COVID, the movement of pigs and rats for sale and slaughter, in turn, led to the increase in the rate of spread of infection to the southern peninsular and Wuhan. Using wild animals as food is common in these areas. Investigations of the spread of the Nipah virus in (Malaysia in 1999) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) Covid in China in 2003 provide useful information to the research community. By comparing the situation in South China and Malaysia, we can identify the factors that disturb the natural reservoir and affect the habitat of animals. 

The emergence of the Nipah virus was associated with the increased size and more commercial pig farms and their encroachment into forested areas. 

Researchers isolated HCoV-229E strain (B814) from the nasal discharge of patients suffering from a common cold in the 1960s. Later on more extensive work was done on HCoV-229E and HCoV-OC43, both of which cause symptoms of loss of self-control. HCoVs germs are less harmful than SARS-CoV because of aerosol spread symptoms.

The COVID-19 epidemic has caused a imbalance to life economically, medically, and socially all over the world. Tracing the zoonotic origins of HCoVs gives us an alarming situation to think about and to understand the natural history, and the reason that causes species jumping of viruses. 

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The alarm has been ringing and the world has to prepare for the coming pandemic of SARS-CoV-2. HCoVs have a zoonotic origin from bats, pigs, and domestic animals. These viruses show greater genetic diversity. All the evidence for COVID-19 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source.      

Can cats get coronavirus yes or no?  

Research on the coronavirus effect on animals proves that cats can also catch coronavirus if they get into close contact with a COVID patient based on the limited available information in the research articles. The spread of the SARs-CoV virus is low when comparing infection transfer rates from animals to humans with human to human or animal to animal infection transfer rates. There is no evidence to suggest that viruses can spread to people or other animals from a pet’s dermis, or furry hair. Animals don’t appear to play a vital role in spreading the virus that causes SARs CoV. If the pet does carry the virus, the most at-risk people are those with weakened immune systems, of a young age and age of 65 and older.

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To protect pets from the SARs CoV virus, don’t let your dog or cat interact with people or animals outside the viral vicinity:

· Keep cats indoors when possible.

· Avoid cats and other pets gathering.

· Make sure your dog wears a leash and keep your dog at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.

  • Isolate yourself from everyone else, including your pet. 
  • Avoid petting, or snuggling the pet, or being kissed or licked by the pet.
  • If you care for your pet or are around animals while you’re sick, wear a cloth face covering.
  • Wash hands before and after handling animals and their food, waste, and supplies.
  • Make sure you clean up after your pet.
  • If you have COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, do not take your pet to the veterinarian yourself. 
  • Contact the veterinarian to virtually assist you with your pet.

An infected cat with SARs-CoV can transfer germs to other pets. In publications, one finds that cats can spread the coronavirus to other cats. After a week, one-third of the uninfected cats that were placed next to the inoculated cats tested positive for the coronavirus. These results provide evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can replicate in cats and can also make them sick. Studies prove that viruses in cats can also be transferred through the air to other cats.

Stray cats and pet cats can also experience variations in their daily care. All over the world, many caregivers were unable to feed cats due to lockdown restrictions and food shortages in markets due to blockage of trade.  The human community also suffered financial and economic problems caused by the pandemic. Many caretakers’ houses also created a COVID-19 emergency grant fund to provide veterinary care, pet food, and shelter houses.

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Can dogs get Covid and die? 

The virus spreads at a faster rate in close pet-to-pet contact.  Hence, Taking precautionary measures is important in pets too. Coronavirus is compared to many pre-existing pandemics that have occure in the past. Fear is in mind that the virus is spread through aerosol and contact. People think interaction with anything like pets can also cause SARs CoV. In 2019 several cats and a dog tested positive for the SARs virus, but no animal or pet was found to transmit the disease to humans. To give a perspective, we can consider that around 750 million dogs are living in the world, mostly alongside people. 

Genes of pets like cats and dogs are very different from the genes of humans. The Virus outbreak was spread from the Wuhan rat and wild animals market. This shows the virus can also spread from animal to animal and not from animal to human or from human to animal

Canine parvovirus and heartworms are examples of infections that cannot be transmitted from dogs to humans due to the differences in our genetic make-up, among other things.

There are no commercial vaccines available for animals at the moment. Although, Zoetis has donated over 11,000 doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to many zoos. This is for vaccinating more than 100 mammalian species because animals living in a zoo are at a higher risk of being exposed to SARS-CoV-2. Russia made the world’s first animal vaccine for COVID-19, but that has been designed for carnivores only. These carnivores include lions, tigers, mammals, bears, cats, dogs, etc.

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There was however an extremely rare and isolated case where a dog had contracted the virus. It’s still a question for the research community to know how the disease interacts with other animals. There have been questions on whether the dog has actually contracted the disease, or just that the virus is being transmitted in its body. After extensive research, researchers found that the dog was in close contact with its owner who also had a viral contact earlier. For a dog to contract coronavirus, the disease will have had to mutate to enable it to latch on to dog cells. Right now, we don’t know for sure if this is the case, so this example tells us very little.

Can dogs get Covid symptoms? 

From the above discussion, we have noticed that SARs CoV is transmitted from pet to pet but not to pet from humans or vice versa. But from given cases, we can get a clear answer that pets might also face some serious symptoms. Pets infected with this virus depend on their immune systems to fight the infection. Of the pets that have gotten sick, most only had mild illness and fully recovered. Serious illness in pets is extremely rare. Although, they may go through some symptoms.

Pets sick with the SARs CoV-19 may have:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Lethargy (unusual lack of energy or sluggishness)
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you notice any of these symptoms contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. If someone is sick with SARs CoV-19 and your pet becomes sick, call your veterinarian and let them know you are sick with COVID-19. 

Dogs’ and cats’ lifestyle is very similar to that of humans. They want to feed, walk outside and do all other activities to stay healthy and entertained. To make their lifestyle easier veterinarian doctors recommend the vaccination of pets from many viral contagious diseases. And some precautionary measures to keep them safe during the outbreak situation as well.

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Can I walk my dog if I have Covid?  

The Covid outbreak has been around for almost 2 years now. In the early days of the outbreak, social media was being bombarded with photos of dogs in masks and body covering like humans. Although COVID-19 isn’t a health threat to dogs as it is to humans at present. While dog ownership has its health benefits, all humans are currently at risk of contracting the virus. If someone with a pet tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed, the Centers for Disease Control recommends limiting contact with your pets.

· If possible, pets should be taken care of by a healthy person instead of a sick one.

· Avoid physical contact with your pet.

· Physical and mental exercise is extremely important for dogs. 

· If you are allowed to venture outside according to your local area’s stay-home orders, dog owners feeling healthy should continue walking their dogs with added safety measures. 

· Wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth when you are walking your dog.

· Observe any local ordinances concerning curfews.

· Wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with your dog.

CDC recommends the following SOPs:

  • Walk dogs on a leash.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people and animals
  • Avoid any unnecessary interactions 
  • Wash hands and sanitize them with sanitizers after  contact.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Clean and disinfect the surfaces you use often such as benchtops, desks, and doorknobs. 
  • Clean and disinfect objects you use often such as mobile phones, keys, wallets, and work passes.
  • Keep the windows open, allowing the passage of clean and fresh air into your home.
  • Clean your hands before you put your mask on.
  • When you take off your mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it is a fabric mask or dispose of it in a trash bin if it is a medical mask.

By taking all these precautionary measures one can walk their dog out and enjoy a normal life of their own with their pet. Covid is deadly only if one does not take precautionary measures. If your dog does not listen to you during your outdoor activities, avoid visiting crowded places. Try to do more indoor activities with pets rather than roaming around crowded places. There are more ways to exercise and entertain your dog indoors, including indoor games and dog training. Dogs depend on their owner to stay safe, healthy, and happy. Do not fall victim to myths and rumors about dogs and coronavirus. Under no circumstances should you abandon your dog (or other pets) because of COVID-19 fears.

  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather
  • Do not let them interact.

It is the responsibility of the pet owner to self-educatr around the guidelines regarding COVID. Keeping pets safe from SARs CoV is very easy as all the SOPs are defined by the CDC in a very clear way. Cleaning your pet’s paws can keep your pets not only safe but also happy as they get to spend time with their owners. 

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Stay informed.  Click this affiliate link to order your copy of Coronavirus Ultimate Guide: Everything YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COVID-19 (under and post Pandemic

Hazel Buckley
Hazel Buckley

About Hazel Buckley
Hazel is an animal enthusiast and educator who grew up on a farm which her parents owned in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The farm was situated right under the Majuba Mountains - the site where the Anglo-Boer War was fought. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.