Coronavirus and Your Pet

Mar 7, 2020

Maybe this will keep me safe!
Credit JTD121 (Josh Dionne) [Flickr]

You may have heard that dogs and cats commonly have coronaviruses, and you are wondering if it's safe to keep your family pet.  The answer is that your dog or cat poses no risk to you, or your family or your friends.  However, it is more important than ever to keep your pet healthy!

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With the intense interest in the new coronavirus, it’s a good time to consider whether we might be exposed to it. Some think the novel coronavirus – named COVID-19 – spread from a bat to another wild animal before being passed on to humans. The question is asked – can my pet catch COVID-19? And, can my pet pass COVID-19 to me?

The term “coronavirus” is not new. It has been around for a long time and actually refers to a family of viruses. Some cause mild respiratory symptoms, while others have severe consequences. Your dog can catch canine coronavirus or CCV. There is a feline version – called FECV. These viruses are common, and highly contagious from dog to dog, or cat to cat, but they are NOT COVID-19.

Your veterinarian can easily treat canine CCV with a vaccination. Occasionally, the usually mild FECV can mutate into the more serious feline infectious peritonitis or FIP. There is an FIP vaccine but it has not been effective in treating infected cats.

Coronaviruses are also found in other domestic and even wild animals, including cattle, horses, camels, ferrets, bats. So back to the question about whether you can catch COVID-19 from your pet. Keep in mind that the coronaviruses commonly found in dogs and cats are not the same as the novel coronavirus now known as COVID-19.

Also remember that our furry friends don’t have to be infected with something to pass it from person to person. For example, if you have the flu, and you cuddle up with your dog (or cat), the next person who handles your pet could pick up your germs. If they touch their face or eyes or mouth before washing their hands, they could become infected with your flu germs.

So be smart with your pet. Don’t let it run loose where it might come into contact with other animals or people, and bring home a virus – any virus. Make sure your furry friend is up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations for respiratory diseases. And wash your hands with soap and water often. Keeping all family members healthy and safe is a top priority, even when you’re speaking of pets.

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