What should you do if your cat or dog gets Covid-19 from you?

This page is about what the experts say you should do in respect of isolation not in respect of medical treatment. It goes without saying that a veterinarian must be involved.

It’s becoming apparent that cat owners who test positive for antibodies or viral RNA of the Covid-19 disease (which means that they have or have had the disease) can spread it to cats and dogs. It does not mean that they do. It means that it is possible. Are people taking precautions to protect their pet when they self-isolate at home? What happens next is the important question. I am not sure what I’d do. I find it hard to accept that I’d have to isolate my cat if he became infected. I am not sure that it is practical or realistic.

Testing cats for Covid-19 in Texas
Photo: Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Isolate

Cat and dog owners will be concerned that they may have to do something with their pet which will upset them. There are two possible outcomes. Firstly, they will have to isolate their cat or dog from other cats and dogs and people which is going to be very difficult. Although news media constantly say that there is no evidence that pets can pass on the disease to their owners or other people living in the same home. I actually disagree with that assessment because, after all, this is a zoonotic disease, which is a disease that passes between animal and human i.e. both ways. And why isolate pets if they don’t spread it?

Secondly, some pet owners might be concerned that they are going to have to relinquish their companion animal so that the authorities can isolate them. I don’t think they should be concerned about that. Although if the situation deteriorates (second spike) anything can happen.

Texas testing

I’m addressing this issue once again because it is in the news in Texas, USA. To the best of my knowledge, it is the first time that a full-blown study has taken place on the prevalence of the Covid-19 infection in pets. A team from the Texas A&M University is testing pets of owners who have contracted the disease. They started in June and today Fox News reports that they have identified two, asymptomatic cats.

They’ve issued a statement which is intended to reassure people. I understand the need for that because there is a background concern about pets which has been somewhat ignored probably, in part, to prevent panic.

Under no circumstances would an owner of an infected pet be asked to surrender their pets, and there’s no need to worry about a diagnosis. But when we do find out that a pet is positive, we would work with those owners to take preventative measures to make sure that that paired is staying home, it’s not interacting with other pets and is isolating in the same way that positive people would isolate. – Dr. Sarah Hamer, an epidemiologist.

In July, a pet dog in Fort Worth, Texas was tested positive for the virus. My reading of the news is that they made a presumption that the dog got the disease from their owner who had the virus.

No evidence yet

State veterinarian, Dr Andy Schwartz, at the time, said that based on their current knowledge there is no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading Covid-19. I’m sure that this study is designed to confirm that assessment. It is obviously a developing situation. Now that the world has settled into a new rhythm in living with the disease it is time to refine our knowledge of it, to analyse the role that domestic cats and dogs play in its spread. The point simply needs to be checked out no matter how uncomfortable it is to discuss it.

China

Understandably, there is a great desire, and rightly so, to calm the situation down because at the outset of the disease there was panic in China with some cat owners doing the unthinkable, albeit rarely, by killing their pets for fear that the animal would spread the disease to them.

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