Can pets catch coronavirus and pass it on? How to protect your cats and dogs – The Sun

CORONAVIRUS has left pet lovers everywhere concerned their dogs and cats may be vulnerable to the bug.

It comes after a pet cat in England was infected with Covid-19 from its owners – the first known case in the UK.

Can pets catch coronavirus and pass it on?

There has been a lot of confusion over whether pets can catch or carry coronavirus.

During the early stages of the outbreak, scientists and government officials initially confirmed that it wasn't possible.

In March 2020, IDEXX Laboratories Inc in the US evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a new veterinary test system for Covid-19.

The lab reported that its results showed it was passed "person-to-person".

However, several dogs and a cat tested positive for Covid-19 following close contact with infected humans, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

On April 5, it was revealed a Malayan tiger at New York's Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus in what has been called the "first case of its kind".

The Zoo said tiger, Nadia, "tested positive for Covid-19. She, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions had developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover".

On April 2, the World Organisation for Animal Health said: "Now that Covid-19 virus infections are widely distributed in the human population there is a possibility for some animals to become infected through close contact with infected humans.

"Several dogs and cats have tested positive to Covid-19 virus" as a result of contracting the disease from their owners, it added.

In America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that "a very small number of pets outside the US reported to be infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 after close contact with people with coronavirus."

  • On Feb 28 it was reported that a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive for Covid-19 and further testing, including gene sequencing, suggested it had a low level infection, likely to have been a case of human-to-animal transmission. The dog didn't show any clinical signs and following repeated testing and negative results, was released from quarantine. The dog died three weeks later.
  • A second dog in Hong Kong also tested positive and, again, showed no clinical signs.
  • On March 27, it was reported that a cat in Belgium, whose owner was diagnosed with Covid-19, had tested positive for coronavirus and showed mild clinical signs. The infection appeared to be an isolated case and the animal’s health was understood to be improving.

The latest case was reported in the UK on July 27 when authorities confirmed that a pet cat had tested positive in England.

It was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, on July 22.

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England (PHE), said: "This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.

"The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round.

"At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.

"In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals."

A private vet initially diagnosed the pet with feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but the sample was also tested for Covid-19 part of a research programme.

The case has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health in line with international agreements.

The World Organisation for Animal Health said that more studies are being carried out to gauge "the susceptibility of different animal species to the virus and to assess infection dynamics in susceptible animal species".

The organisation stressed, however, that, "currently, there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of Covid-19.

"Human outbreaks are driven by person-to-person contact.

"To date, there is no evidence that companion animals have spread the disease.

"Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare."

Here, in the UK, official government lines published on March 27 state that "there is no evidence of coronavirus circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans.

"However, in line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals."

A spokeswoman for Battersea told The Sun Online: "There is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to people."

Researchers in China said that cats can be infected with the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, and can spread it to other cats, but dogs are not really susceptible to the infection.

There is currently no evidence that animals can transmit coronavirus to humans, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)

Please do not abandon or stop giving your animals attention.

Can I still take my pet to the vet during lockdown?

All non-essential trips to vets should be avoided.

If your pet needs urgent treatment, you must phone the vet to arrange the best approach to meet your pets’ needs.

What advice is there for pet owners with Covid-19?

You can find Battersea’s advice to pet owners on its website.

The Canine and Feline Sector Group – made up of the UK’s leading dog, cat, and veterinary organisations – has also put together guidance for pet owners and dog walkers during the pandemic.

The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) advice for pet owners diagnosed with Covid-19 is:

  • Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary animal health measure until more information is known about the virus.
  • If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible.
  • Keep cats indoors if possible and try to get someone else to exercise dogs, to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease – but there is no evidence that pets play a role in the spread of the disease.
  • If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take it to the vet but call the practice for advice.
  • If your pet requires emergency treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment.

What should you do about walking the dog if you think you may be infected?

If your dog cannot exercise at home, you should ask someone outside of your household to walk your dog for you.

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus:

You may leave your house to exercise once a day and you should combine this with walking your dog.

It is important that you minimise the time spent outside of the home and remain two metres away from anyone outside of your household.

Remember to wash your hands and remain two metres away from anyone outside your household.

Walking someone else's dog:

This counts as caring for a vulnerable person, which includes those self-isolating or being shielded.

Remember to wash your hands before and after handling the dog and keep two metres away from other people and animals while walking, including when handing over the dog to the owner.

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