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Coronavirus In Dogs – Risks Due To COVID-19

Corona Virus In Dogs
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Coronavirus In Dogs

Coronavirus!!! What is this new popular virology term?

A coronavirus is a virus group that could lead to range of changes in human body such as running nose, cough, sore throat, and fever.

Some are slight like the common cold whereas there are few others that might end up in pneumonia. They generally spread when in contact with an infected person directly.

The coronavirus happens to derive its name from spikes on its lower level resembling crown (Corona in Latin means Crown).

The genus coronavirus is made up of a minimum of three groups which could cause medium to serious enteric, respiratory or systemic illness. Few other coronaviruses are SARS and MERS.

Coronavirus Transmission – Animals To Humans???

Bats could be the reservoir hosts for the viruses which could transmit across barriers amongst species to affect humans and other animals both domestic and wild.

In the previous two important coronavirus outbreaks, these were spread among humans and this transmission happened via the intermediate hosts’ one being the masked palm civet (SARS) and the other being dromedary camels (MERS).

Public Health authorities and partners are striving strong to find out the animal source of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV) which is now officially known as COVID-19 or Corona Virus Disease.

Investigations are going on. The first transmission is connected with the live animal market located in China but currently, the virus is being spread from humans to humans.

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Risks For Dogs Due To COVID-19

As of now, the experts trust that it is not so likely. The world health organization at present has stated that there is no such evidence to prove that dogs and cats can be infected with this new coronavirus.

The OIE (World organization for Animal Health) has reported that there is no proof that dogs have any role in the spread of this illness or that they could get infected.

The CDC also has presented its opinion which says that presently there is no proof of the companion animals which includes pets that can transmit COVID-19.

Surprisingly two dogs tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong!!!!

Researchers Say “NO Transmission of COVID-19 by Dogs”

Update on March 23rd:

The canine patients were in the close surroundings of the people who were infected and such an atmosphere is likely to have been shed with a lot of viruses. This has resulted in the virus staying in the dog’s noses.

There is no evidence that the dogs had become sick or had shown any signs of illness.

The first dog is a 17-year-old Pomeranian who was tested positive for more than a week (last week of February, the first week of March) prior to the raised undetectable stage of the virus.

The news that it is tested positive for a long period shows that the dog could have ahead a low key infection which might have been transmitted from human to animal.

That dog was let out from quarantine on 14th March and it passed away two days after that. Officials state that it is not much likelier to have died due to the virus however the death must have been due to the co-morbidities, and as such no necropsy (autopsy on animals) was done.

On 18th March two more dogs were bought into quarantine after the owner was tested positive for COVID-19. One of the dogs was tested positive which is a German shepherd breed 2 years old dog and the other dog was tested negative.

Just like the previous case history, this is also more like a transmission from humans to animals.

There is however no proof which states that pets are also a medium of transmission of this virus. These two dogs would stay in quarantine for another 14 days and then be followed up with tests.

Pets May Not Get Infected But Could They Act As A Carrier Of Infection?

Yes. There is a possibility of pets being a conduit of this virus. A person infected may sneeze or transmit the virus to the pet and such pet may be touched or get in contact with another healthy human who may then be contracted with the virus.

Veterinary doctors state the possibility of risk of transmission as low.

COVID-19 is believed to live longer on harder surfaces such as glass, metal than on soft surfaces such as fur, cardboard.

However, animals who stay along with infected persons has to be kept away from normal people and animals similar to people must be quarantined at home to keep away their contact with others.

Are Vaccines Available For Dogs And Cats For COVID-19?

There are no vaccines for COVID 19 for humans or pets at present.

Veterinary doctors already have knowledge about various coronaviruses.

Though they are identical but different coronavirus species lead to various usual illnesses in domestic animals. Most of the dogs are generally vaccinated for another kind of coronavirus (Canine Coronavirus) as puppies.

But the fact is this type of coronavirus cannot be protected with those vaccines.

Tests Available For Vets To Check On Pets For COVID-19

Yes. As per data of March 15th, 2020, the veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory present in the college of Veterinary Medicine has the ability to check for the present COVID-19 in animals.

The test must be prescribed by a veterinary doctor and it must have the rationale for the test.

Such requests are then directed to state animal health official and state public health veterinarian for approval on the basis of every individual case.

In the situation of a positive result, the same officers have to inform first before notifying the veterinarian. For further queries on this get in touch with the diagnostic laboratory.

Now, Why is there a test when the pets cant transmit ??!!

Though the present data says that the pets cannot transmit or get infected with this deadly virus and spread it across to other animals and humans, research people at the college will start to test the pets in the future to keep a check on the outbreak.

There is a lot more to know about this new virus and it is necessary to evaluate if the present understanding changes.

Animal from which COVID-19 originated..

Present research states that horseshoe bats are the reservoir species and the virus started its journey from that species as well.

Coronavirus outbreaks previously in humans were SARS, MERS came from bats but it’s transmitted to other species like palm civet and camels.

Are You Diagnosed With COVID-19? Advice For The protection Of Your Pet

As the pet has a minimum risk of COVID-19 infection there are no prescribed steps to be followed in protecting them from infection.

But the pets may carry the virus when they are around an atmosphere where there is a lot of viruses and this could be a medium of transmitting the infection or virus to other humans or family members.

So, to safeguard the other people and the infected person the CDC recommends that it is good for the infected person to keep away from pets just like restricting contact with other humans.

It is better to keep away from snuggling, kissing or licked, and even food sharing.

Do not get closer to the pet by washing hands before and after touching the pet and it is advised to wear a face mask while near the pet.

Face Mask For Dogs?

Not necessary. The face mask will not serve as a protection for the pet from contracting any infection but however can lead to breathing difficulties.

Face Mask For Human?

Sporting a surgical mask in no way prevents animals or humans from being infected by the virus.

A mask is meant for usage by people who are already infected so it serves as a barrier from spreading the virus to others by the way of droplets by coughing, sneezing, or talking.

Effect Of COVID-19 On Food Safety

As domestic animals have no evidence of contracting this coronavirus there is no fear in food safety.

Few Preventive measures to safeguard the pet and their owners from COVID-19

As the pet is at a low-risk level of COVID-19 infection there is no requirement of any steps to safeguard them from any infection from this virus.

To safeguard humans the CDC advises the following few measures:

  • Wash the hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Do not touch the eye, nose, and mouth often.
  • Keep away from sick people.
  • Stay alone when you fall sick.
  • Cover the mouth when sneezing or coughing using tissue and dispose of it immediately.
  • Cleanse and disinfect the often touched objects and surfaces.
  • Self-home isolation: If someone is not feeling and has signs of respiratory sickness like fever, cough, chills or fatigue or breath, sore throat, running or stuffy nostrils, body pain, the headache it is better to self-isolate.
  • The CDC advises that you stay at home until a minimum of 24 hours after you have got relieved from fever 100 degrees Fahrenheit or symptoms of fever without the usage of any fever or temperature reducing medications.
  • Veterinary doctors must state that their clinic is declared as a NO HANDSHAKE ZONE temporarily.
  • Advise colleagues and customers to keep away from shaking hands with other people.

Precaution Before Heading To A Clinic During The Pandemic

Going to nursing homes and long term medical facilities by service canines and their owners must be kept on hold temporarily during this pandemic situation.

Few other precautionary measures to be taken to protect pets from COVID-19

At present pet owners who are healthy in the United States have to do nothing much except to follow few basic hygienic precautions like washing their hands with soap and water prior to touching any animal and after touching the animal.

If anyone tests positive for COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 researchers advise that such people may restrict themselves from being in contact with animals for two reasons.

– One is to avoid pets from being exposed to the virus and the other being transmitting the virus through the hair, skin, or fur of the animal which might pass on to another healthy human who gets in contact with the animal.

– To decrease the spread of virus it is advised to wipe the pet’s paws when they get in and out of the house using a paw cleaner and paw wipes.

Dogs don’t require any kind of face mask to keep themselves safe against novel coronavirus COVID-19.

If dog owners are still worried and notice any difference in the pet’s health it is better to consult a veterinarian.

And the very important caution notice is that “Under no circumstance, the pet owners should abandon their dogs, cats, and other pets due to COVID-19 fears.”

Quarantining Pets – Worthy?

There is some importance for quarantining pets according to scientific studies as it helps researchers to observe the relationship between the animals and this disease as we have quite less information about this at present.

“Whilst it seems a bit scary, it’s purely a precautionary measure, and it’s certainly nothing for pet owners in general to be concerned about,” said Gray.

Few pet owners located in mainland China have been trying to fit face masks in their dogs’ face but according to experts, there is no much benefit to this it is in general more distressing for the animal as it could lead them to panic.

Rather it is good for pet owners to adhere to some basic hygiene.

WHO has advised owners to wash their hands with water and soap once they touch the pets and prior to touching them.

If the dog owners are quite concerned then they can go one step ahead and wipe the paws of the pets using paw cleaner but they should remember not to overdo it as it would dry off the paws of the animals.

Check On Major Risk - Through Vet's Lens

The veterinarian doctors and animal rights authorities have a much higher risk than the potential spread of the virus to pets which is the spread of fear.

Once the Hong Kong dog was tested positive it was announced to the public. The LAP (Lifelong Animal Protection Charity) which supports rehoming animals in Hong Kong wrote to the government that this news has created “a tremendous amount of panic.”

McClelland the founder of LAP had stated that there had been a lot of queries from numerous people who are stressed with their pets, with many curious that their dog or cat would be compelled to be sent to quarantine

In such a state of Panic, the founder of LAP was concerned that there are high risks of owners abandoning the pets, and others in the society could stigmatize the pet owners.

Dog owners may have to come across a lot of issues while they take their pets for outdoor walking or the neighbors might create an unnecessary fuss.

Previously in the year 2003, there was news that cats in Beijing had been grabbed from owners and killed by people with the fear that they could harbor the disease as per the New Scientist report.

In Hong Kong, there was a rise in abandoned pets according to LAP.

State Of Pets – During Pandemic

At Wuhan the city in China which is the Center of epidemic and where the entire city has been under shutters for more than a month the pets have been locked up in the apartments all alone whereas the owners are caught outside the city.

The volunteers from Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association have stated that they had rescued numerous pets from the residences.

Furry Angels Haven a team that functions on rescuing homeless and ignored pets in Wuhan has stated without a doubt there has been a rise in abandoned animals from the outbreak and that pets were targeted unnecessarily.

In the previous weeks McClelland had declared they have not seen in Hong Kong any symptom of raise in pet abuse or abandonment.

Rather they have seen an increase in people looking out for various ways to export theirs pets abroad stating the reason that the owner is traveling out of the city.

Pet’s Company – Need Of The Hour

Instead of cornering the pets as a culprit of coronavirus, they are in fact nice to have around during these stressful times when most of the people are held up with work or studying from the house.

Pets are said to be much happier having their extra time spent with the owners and it can help people in lowering their blood pressure and can ease the feeling of stress.

We all know that stress reduces the immunity and no one currently wants their immunity to be reduced.

That’s been the situation of a Hong Kong resident Marco Leung who has been an owner of a seven-year-old pet dog.

He hasn’t taken much stress about his dog contracting or transmitting this virus rather he has been taking his pet for walks following the basic hygiene by cleaning the dogs after its outdoor walks.

According to him, he says the dogs cannot be infected but he thinks if the virus is shed on their skin or fur it tends to live longer.

So, if we are a bit careful he thinks things will be fine. He has been working from home and he feels it’s good that he gets to spend a whole day with the pet Hung Jai which literally means “Little Bear” in Cantonese.

He added that working from home is a boring task and as his pet is along it gives him the space to play and have fun along.

Changes In Behavior Towards Pets By Pet Owners

According to the World Health Organization, It is usually good to wash your hands with soap and water prior to touching the pets and after having contact with pets.

This helps us in safeguarding ourselves from various bacteria and viruses such as E.Coli and Salmonella which could pass from pets to humans.

To safeguard a person from contracting Coronavirus WHO has given the following instructions:

  • When sneezing makes sure to cover the mouth and nose using a tissue or the elbow.
  • Dispose of the tissue immediately in a closed bin.
  • Rinse your hand after touching the pet and frequently wash your hands using soap and water and cleanse it using a sanitizer.
  • Maintain distance from humans who have been affected by cough and sneezing issues.
  • Maintain a distance of a minimum of 1 meter from any human to protect yourself.
  • It is good to stay home and practice social distancing.

If there are people in one house few quarantined and few are not – Could the pet visit both the groups?

No. As a precautionary measure, it is better to not encourage that practice.

Few Steps To follow - To Protect The Pets In The Present Situation

It is necessary to include the pets in the preparation and planning made by the family to face the situation.

If someone in the family happens to fall sick and is quarantined make sure there is enough pet food stocked in hand as there are high chances the entire family will be in quarantine for the next few weeks.

Make sure the neighbors are aware of the feeding, walking, and other medications your pet requires as the pet needs to be taken care of in the absence of the owners.

To-Do – Pet requires Veterinary Care

If the pet requires any veterinary care contact the veterinarian or emergency clinic to know about the details of how they are handling the patients in the current situation.

Most of the hospitals are providing drive-ups services or telemedicine for avoiding the physical contact between individuals.

To safeguard the pet from any respiratory issues vaccinate the pet for Bordetella, parainfluenza, and canine influenza which are the popular vaccines to prevent respiratory-related problems in pets.

The Veterinarian could suggest the right vaccines to be given the pet based on various other health conditions of the pet and its risks.

Building An Emergency Kit—ASPCA

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty in Animals) is dedicated to giving importance to the health and safety of the animals and their owners.

They are closely analyzing the developments in connection with COVID-19 the vice president of ASPCA shelter Medicine Services Dr. Stephanie Janeczko said.

A pet’s immediate defense is an owner who is well planned to face the situation and ASPCA advises the pet owners to take the required steps and precautions and include pets in the plans to keep their family which includes the pets healthy.

The ASPCA suggests emergency kits which comprise of 30 day supply of pets medicines and also a minimum of two weeks required food and other items like kitty litter.

Also, make necessary arrangements for collars and tags with updated identification details such as pet names, contact details, and other important medications of the pet.

In addition, specify the pet’s name, owner’s name, and contact details on the carriers.

Importance of designating a caretaker for pets

The ASPCA also suggests “proactively” predesignating a member in the family, friend, or boarding arrangement to support with short or long period care in case the owner is unable to take care of the pet.

In case of emergency caregiver’s help is required make sure to keep handy all the details in a dossier.

Chalk down the habits, preferred food, medical state and medicines taken, veterinarian contact details.

Medical and vaccination information and behavioral tendencies.

The Bottomline

So, finally what we understand is there is no proof that COVID-19 could spread from an animal companion who is infected to a person.

Also, as a passive medium of carrying the disease (for example if you’re dog’s fur is infected by playing with a person infected with the virus), it is not likely for the pet to transmit COVID-19.

But as a measure of precaution from all types of infectious diseases, proper handwashing regularly and basic hygiene is advised to be followed prior and after being in contact with companion animals.

As there is no vaccine for the new coronavirus preventive steps and preparedness are the only ways to safeguard humans and pets from COVID-19.

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At the time of the pandemic, it is a fact that people are more stressed about their pets.

Though COVID-19 has originated from an animal source, there is no proof that animals which include pets in America are an origin of the infection or have the capacity to infect others as per reports from centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If the person is not sick with COVID-19 he/she can always communicate with the pets as normally they would which includes taking them for a walk, feeding, and playing as per American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Veterinary researchers and experts have advised certain instructions which are to be followed by people and their pets to be safe at the time of such pandemic.

Experts also suggest that people who are ill with COVID-19 must keep themselves away from pets.

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