If you are one of the lucky ones sharing your life with a dog, cat and other pets especially during these times of uncertainty, this article is for you.
Clients report how worried and stressed they feel about their pets and wonder if their dogs and cats are at risk of being infected with the COVID-19; and, if their pets pose a risk to humans.
1) Can dogs and other pets transfer the COVID-19 to humans?
No. Other coronaviruses have passed from animals to humans in the past, but this is extremely rare; there is no evidence that this is the case in the current outbreak. There are a few disease agents that dogs and cats can carry and give to humans, some parasites for example, but pets are not carriers of this coronavirus (CDC, 2020). There are other canine and feline coronaviruses, but these do not infect people.
2) Would an infected person transfer the COVID-19 to any pet?
This virus cannot pass from people to animals, either. So far there are no known cases of pets contracting COVID-19 from any source.
3) What if I sneeze on my dog and other pets?
If you sneeze or cough on your family dog, cat and another person pet the dog, it is highly unlikely that they will contract the virus.
COVID-19 is primarily contracted via saliva or mucus droplets, such as those released in a cough or sneeze. This is why it is so important to cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing/sneezing, and why thorough hand washing is so essential.
It is possible to pick up the virus by touching a contaminated surface or object, but this is not the primary means of infection. Smooth, non-porous surfaces, such as countertops, transmit the virus much more efficiently than porous materials, like fur. Animals don't spread the virus this way because animal hair is both fibrous and porous. The hairs absorb and trap the virus particles, a bit like a Swiffer. Thus, petting your dog is unlikely to expose you to risk.
4) What are the recommendations regarding contact with pets?
The same recommendations we already know:
Wash your hands; cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze; practice social distancing.
When you take your dog outside, don't get in close contact with other dog owners.
If you are sick, do not hug the animal or allow her to "kiss" you, lick you, or share your food.
5) What to do during those long hours at home with your pet??
If you have a dog, teach her new tricks or behaviors!
You will find many schools, trainers and ideas online. Just make sure that your approach honours your dog’s age, limitations and understanding. Refrain from approaches that cause physical and emotional harm. Read and compare.
Note: These answers are based on the best information available as of the time of this posting.
CRC Health (https://www.crchealth.com/types-of-therapy/what-is-animal-assisted-therapy)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html)
American Veterinary Medical Association/AVMA (https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/covid-19-faq-pet-owners_031520.pdf)