Pets deserve our love and attention, now more so than ever Credit: Representational image

Guwahati: Our furry friends aka pets have always been a part of our family, and we stress over them. We remain concerned whether we are providing them with the correct nourishment and giving them enough love. We always get on edge in the event we witness them in agony. Amid the pandemic, what about our pets? Can they too get infected with COVID-19? Can they be carriers of COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a leading national public health institute of the United States, says that it seems highly unlikely for cats and dogs to get the disease and also pass it on. But recent news has made us consider something else.

Two pooches in Hong Kong, a pug dog in New Carolina, tigers in Bronx New York Zoo, and two cats in New York, etc, are few instances of animals showcasing positive results for COVID-19.

Two pet cats in New York showcased signs of mild COVID-19 infection; however, they are on their way to recovery now

However, further analysis of the animals showcased that most of them had infected owners. This might have resulted in them in the inhalation of the infected droplets and in all the cases they have made a full-scale recovery. There have also been cases of the dog being asymptomatic but low levels of virus were detected on the animal’s nasal passages and mouth. Moreover, dog breeds like pugs with a short nose tend to contract upper respiratory tract infections but mild ones at that and have a low to zero fatality rate so far.

So while there is a negligible chance of your pets getting the infection, there might be some cases of Enteric Canine Coronavirus (CCoV) which is an infectious disease that affects the digestive system in dogs. Signs of the illness can be abdominal pain, sudden onset of diarrhea/loose stools that have a fetid odor, lethargy, and decreased appetite. Also one needs to watch out for cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, pneumonia – usually due to co-infection with other pathogens.

However, if pets can get infected from us, does it mean that we can get infected from them too? After all, evidence suggests that the novel virus started from an animal source, possibly bats. However, don’t panic, for as of now, there is no evidence that pets can act as a vector to spread the disease. But there is no problem in following a few precautions, as stated by Dr Libby Guise, a veterinary medical officer who also manages her own website, Fluent Woof Woof:

  • Avoid taking your pooch to gatherings with large crowds
  • Keep your pet away from any infected individuals
  • Practise good hygiene at home
  • Walking your pet on a leash is efficient and helpful as well
  • Arrange for another family member to care for your pet if you become ill
  • If you have no one else to help with your pets when you’re sick, wear a face covering and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.

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