Covid-19 affecting my cat or dog?
After a recent article by the BBC, regarding Covid-19 and keeping your cats indoors, the British Veterinary Association has now clarified their position in light of the report.
In response to questions from the BBC about general advice for pet owners the British Veterinary Association had given both general guidance and specific advice for cat owners regarding households who were self-isolating or infected households.
The article however had suggested that veterinary advice was to keep all cats indoors. The British Veterinary Association has explained since that the advice it gave was only in relation to cats within infected households or households with people who were self-isolating.
British Veterinary Association President Daniella Dos Santos Said:
“It’s incredibly important that information and advice for the public is clear and we regret that this story will have caused worry and upset amongst cat owners. We are not advising that all cats are kept indoors. Only cats from infected households or where their owners are self-isolating, and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons. There have been a tiny number of cases of Covid-19 in animals and in all cases, it is likely that the transmission was human to animal. There is no evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners. From the small number of cases it appears that dogs do not show symptoms, but cats can show clinical signs of the disease. It is also the case that animals can act as fomites, as the virus could be on their fur in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs. That’s why our main advice for pet owners continues to be to practise good hand hygiene. And, as a precaution, for pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time. It is very important that people don’t panic about their pets. There is no evidence that animals can pass the disease to humans.”
Coronavirus and pets
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization are currently stating there is no evidence that cats and dogs can spread the disease or become sick. Human outbreaks are driven via person to person contact.
If, however, you have COVID-19 it is sensible to restrict your contact with your pets until more is known about this virus. Where possible let another member of your household take care of your pet. In the event the pet owners must look after their pet then they should at all times maintain good hygiene practices and wear a facemask if possible.
Pets coats and the virus
Another discussion has been regarding ‘fomites’. In simple terms these are objects or materials which can carry infection, for example, clothes, utensils and furniture etc. When a person sneezes or coughs the virus can be transferred onto their hands which when they then touch something can transfer againsuch that another person can later transfer it to their mouth or nose.
No research has been done so far as to whether it can be passed on to an animal’s coat in the same way. Dog and cat hair is porous and fibrous, although its unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by stroking your pet. It is always a good idea to wash your hands before and after any interacting with them as it is not proven at this stage.
Some sources recommend that you should keep cats indoors as we are not 100% sure if it can be transmitted on the coat and this would help remove any risk. This is to prevent transmission to others in the event you test positive for the virus. If you touched your cat and yourself then if it is possible it could transfer it onto the fur.
Common sense should prevail. If you live in a place with few households around you then there is limited risk. However, if you live in a populated area and have a friendly cat which is known to let people stroke it, or it visits neighbours, obviously the risk would be higher. People should avoid interaction with cats are dogs which are not their own.
Try to avoid wiping your pet with antiseptic wipes as it will remove the chemicals on its natural coat. Cats especially can be very sensitive to certain disinfectants which could make them poorly.
Visiting our veterinary centre during Covid-19
Covid-19 has affected veterinary services throughout the world, just like many other businesses. Strict control measures need to be taken according with the government of each particular country.
Due to following our own government guidelines we are only seeing emergencies and urgent cases due to the human transmission, not anything to do with cats or dogs transmitting.
We hope this article has helped to reassure our pet owners.
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