Media – COVID-19 in Pets

Don’t Panic-Be Careful

Staying home is a real drag but if you have pets you’ll never be alone. We don’t need social distancing from them, do we? Here’s the update which, of course, is subject to change.

Idexx Laboratories tested thousands of canine and feline specimens and found no positives for the coronavirus strain that causes disease in humans. Idexx has stated that, “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 this virus.” Simple, yes? No.

A Pomeranian in Hong Kong had a positive serology test for COVID-19 indicating that this dog has been infected. Experts believe that, “Infection in dogs appears to be infrequent.” “These findings indicate that dogs and cats are not infected easily with this virus, and there is no evidence that they play a role in the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, COVID-19 is a newly emerged disease and the situation is still evolving.”

Dogs and cats appear safe but pet ferrets snuggle with their people too. Dr. Mary England of ABQ Mobile Vet, trained and experienced in ferret medicine, shared her insight. “One pet species that can become infected and potentially spread corona virus to family members are ferrets. They are used for studying the disease and for vaccine development for the previous SARS corona virus and the new COVID 19. They are susceptible to multiple human respiratory diseases that we are already aware of including RSV and influenza, but SARS corona viruses are also zoonotic between humans and ferrets. I don’t want people with ferrets to feel they have to get rid of them but to realize they need to keep them safe. If they notice respiratory symptoms in their ferrets they should call their veterinarian and minimize contact with these pets.”

Want some practical advice? Be aware of respiratory symptoms in yourself and everybody who is close to you, including members of other species. Take care of your emotional wellbeing. Get out of the house with your dog, snuggle with your cat or ferret and wash your hands often, including after handling your pets.

During the corona virus crisis Dr. Jeff Nichol is conducting behavior consultations by telephone (505-792-5131) and video rather than in-person. Each week Dr. Nichol shares a blog and a Facebook Live to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet behavioral or physical questions on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.