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COVID-19 and Our Pets

COVID-19 (courtesy of CDC)

Amid rising concerns about COVID-19 in the greater Burlington area, our doctors and staff at River Cove are dedicated to keeping your pets safe.  We know that many of you have questions regarding your pet’s health and possible transmission, and although information is limited on this novel pathogen, here is what we know about COVID-19 in companion animals so far.  

Can pets get COVID-19? 

At this time there are no reports of companion animals becoming sick with COVID-19. In Hong Kong there is a report of dog repeatedly testing positive for COVID-19. The dog is currently under quarantine and is showing no symptoms. The dog’s owner tested positive for COVID-19 first; it is not clear if this case was transmission of infection from human to animal or if it was merely viral particles that were dropped on the dog. There are other feline and canine versions of the coronavirus that have been around for a long time. They do not affect people and rarely cause our companion animals to become sick.

What species are likely to be affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by coronavirus strain SARS-Co-2. This particular virus attaches to ACE 2 receptors. After binding there are several processes that have to occur in order to create symptoms of disease.  In addition to humans, it is presumed that dogs, cats, and ferrets all carry these specific ACE 2 receptors. What is unclear at this time is if binding to these receptors results in a similar cascade of events that is required to create disease in these species.   IDEXX Laboratories, one of the leaders in veterinary diagnostic testing, has performed screening tests on thousands of animals within the United States with no positive results.

My pet is showing signs of a cold; what should I do? 

Signs of respiratory disease in animals include lethargy, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and fever.  If you are noticing any of these symptoms in your pet please contact the office for an appointment. There are many common respiratory diseases that we see in our companion animals and it is important for them to be seen and evaluated. Currently experts feel confident that transmission of COVID-19 is person to person only and are not recommending testing of pets at this time.  If this changes in the future there is a specific animal test for COVID-19 that will be made available. 

What if I am COVID-19 positive or suspected positive and my animal needs to be seen?  

If you are positive or suspected positive for COVID-19, or if you are in self quarantine,  and your pet is sick and needs to be seen, please contact the office to schedule an appointment. At that time we ask that you please let us know if you are positive, suspected positive, or in self quarantine so we can let you know the best plan to have your pet seen safely.

Thank you for your flexibility and your unwavering support during this unprecedented time. If you have any questions regarding pets and COVID-19 please do not hesitate to contact us. There is new data daily on COVID-19 and we will be sure to keep you notified as we receive updated information. For the most up to date information on animals and COVID-19 please visit our website’s page dedicated to keeping you informed.