Can your pet give you COVID?

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

We tend to blame our pets for many things such as the rip on the couch or the scratches on the walls and furniture. While we, as hoomans, may exaggerate blame on our pets, one thing we cannot blame them for is transmitting COVID-19 to us.

With COVID-19 having been initially transmitted from an animal to a human, fears around pets contracting the virus and transmitting it to their owners began to surface – especially since there were more questions about the virus than there were answers available.

According to a study done by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the information available about the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is quite scarce.

You can cuddle your pets worry-free. Evidence shows our pets don’t give us COVID-19. We’re more likely to give it to our pets, or transmit it to other people on their fur. – Natali Trivuncic photo

However, there is more evidence that humans can pass COVID-19 to their pets than the other way around. According to CDC’s website, a “small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.”

Dr. Marialisa Laurella is a veterinarian at Nor-West Animal Clinic. She said she only read about cases of humans transmitting COVID-19 to their pets in case studies. She said she has not seen this in the Rainy River District.

Laurella said the pets who got COVID-19 had mild upper respiratory symptoms. No pets in the Rainy River District showed similar symptoms, she added.

Although this risk is considered to be low, Laurella said the clinic takes maximum precautions.

Laurella said the clinic has performed curbside service since the beginning of the pandemic, and they ask owners to brush down their pet before drop-off, in case someone had sneezed or coughed on the fur.

“We don’t have any of the pet owners coming into the building. We just bring the pets in and we all wear medical face masks and eye protection,” Laurella said. “If an animal is coming in from a household where somebody is suspected of having COVID or where they’ve been advised by the health unit to quarantine, we ask that somebody else bring the pet in on their behalf.”

The CDC advices that pet owners also make their pets follow COVID-19 safety protocols – minus wearing a mask. This means that pets should not interact with people outside of their household.

“If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets,” the CDC states.

To further prevent contact with pet owners, Laurella said they also discuss the pet’s history over the phone.

“The owner drives into the parking lot and lets us know when they’ve arrived and then we take the pet inside,” Laurella added.

In order to minimize the chances of pets contracting COVID-19, follow public health guidelines so we can all have a pawwfect summer.