Information about the Coronavirus and Pets
There is no threat for direct transmission to or from our dogs, cats or horses at this time as they all have their own species specific corona virus. However, we are advising that just as you are quarantining yourselves, you avoid social interactions between your pets and people outside the house. The reason behind that is that just like any surface in the environment, pets have the potential to carry the virus on them. So for example if someone with the virus coughed into their hands, bent down to pet your dog and then you pet your dog and touched your mouth with your hands...transmission is possible. If you are concerned about someone petting your dog, it's safe to wipe their coat with a disinfectant wipe.
In cats, we see a corona virus that is very species specific to cats only. It is spread through fecal oral transmission and can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal signs. It is commonly found in feral populations, shelters and multi-cat households. If you have cats you may have heard of Feline Infectious Peritonitis or "FIP". FIP is rare fatal mutation of the Feline Coronavirus that is not contagious between cats, similar to AIDS in people. The majority of cats exposed to Feline Coronavirus (99% of them) will carry the virus without ever showing clinical signs. The vaccine available is not effective and therefore is not recommended at this time.
In dogs, we also see a very different corona virus, again species specific. It is spread through fecal oral transmission just like in cats and will cause diarrhea the majority of time, although there is a strain that can cause respiratory disease. The Canine Coronavirus will cause clinical signs in puppies and immunocompromised dogs. Healthy dogs can shed it in the feces without showing clinical signs. The vaccine available only provides partial protection and is given on a case by case basis.
We don't know what to make yet of the dog in Hong Kong that tested positive and as of yesterday died. When the pet tested positive, it was quarantined. Last week it tested negative and then was released on Saturday to owners. Owners declined an autopsy so we don't know for sure if the death was related to the virus but is very unlikely due to the fact that the dog was 17 years old and under high stress being in isolation.
Lastly, the horses. Equine Coronavirus is also species specific and is spread through fecal oral transmission. Symptoms usually start out as anorexia, fever and lethargy that progress to diarrhea and colic signs. The virus, like most other viruses, are usually self- limiting and horses recover in a couple of days. Horses that are at risk are those that are highly exposed to other horses, like competition or show horses.
Pets in general are still in need of veterinary care and veterinarians at this time are still working to provide that care. We are trying to limit the flow of people by seeing only sick pets and emergencies. Please do not risk coming to the clinic with your pets for any wellness/vaccine appointments, you should reschedule those for when things calm down. But please do stock up on food and any medications your pet will need for at least 30 days just in case.
I hope this information helps clear things up and I really hope everyone is doing their part to social distance and stay home as much as possible!
Also please educating yourself on the facts from the right sources...aka NOT Facebook!
-Center for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/
-World Health Organization https://www.who.int/
-American Veterinary Medical Association https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/covid-19-faq-pet-owners_031520.pdf
Dr. Caitlin Rooney
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine