A Freddie’s Place Pet Health Bulletin

COVID is back and cases are on the rise. Things change quickly in the world of COVID, with the 2023 variant EG.5 already taking a back seat to the most recent mutation JN.1, which had been found in over 60% of this seasons COVID diagnosis.

We all know how COVID is passed from person to person in the human world, we know the symptoms, the process to test, the treatment, process of isolation  and when it is safe to resume regular activities. We have all learned to live in the new world of world wide virus outbreaks.

But what about your pets? Can COVID be passed to and from you to your fur kids? Could they carry the virus to you? What do the symptoms look like in an animal? Where and how can they contract the virus? How is it treated, and can it be fatal? How can you keep your fur kids, and yourself, safe from contracting the virus and still allow your pets to live a normal life?

Our FreddieSez Team looked into the reality of COVID in pets and found that the majority of measures and treatments used for humans are similar for pets. We’ve broken the long list of COVID related items into smaller, logical segments for your use.

  • What Pets can Contract COVID?

    Any “companion” animal could catch the virus. This includes dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, and pigs. To date, lizards & birds have seemed to be immune. In the case of companion animals, it is the close proximity to someone infected that passes the virus. Water droplets from a sneeze, licking or laying on surfaces where an infected person has been, the normal  everyday contact of affection, these all can cause human to animal transmission of the virus. COVID travels in the air and lives on surfaces. The virus can be active on household surfaces for 3 to 5 days. It can stay active on fabric or cloth from several hours to several days.

    Dogs are less likely to catch COVID than a cat, rabbit, or ferrets.

  • Can COVID Pass from Pet to Pet?

    The short answer is yes, but it is rare. The animals fur will catch and carry the virus, as the porous fur allows COVID to stick and hide in the layers. Normal daily interactions, like socializing and playing, can pass the virus to other animals. But again, it happens less often that humans infecting animals.

  • Can I get COVID from my Pets?

    While it is possible there are very few documented cases where a pet with COVID has passed it on to their human companions. It’s very, very unlikely.

  • How Will I Know if my Pet has COVID?

    It’s not as easy to see as it as in humans, mainly because your pet can’t tell you their symptoms or “where it hurts.” Look for warning signs of fever, coughing, difficulty breathing (shortness of breath), unusual lack of energy or sluggishness, sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes, vomiting, diarrhea. As you can see, these are no unique on their own, COVID can look like other illnesses. Look for several of these symptoms together, advancing quickly.  Some pets never show a sign that they have the virus, others can become very sick. A serious or fatal case is rare.

  • If I, or someone in my home, has COVID, how do I Protect my Pets?

    Follow standard isolation protocol as prescribed by your doctor. As easy as that sounds, it would mean that you can’t play, feed, pet, snuggle, romp, hold, or allow the pet to sleep in your bed… which is not easy at all. You’re also forcing this separation for 5+ days. As you can see, it’s not an easy or enjoyable prospect.

    And as obvious as this may seem, remember that you should not: put a mask on your pet, or wipe them with alcohol/hand sanitizer, bleach, or disinfectant solutions.

  • What if my Pet Shows the Signs?

    As with humans, quick action to validate it is COVID is key. You should involve your primary care veterinarian, as soon as possible. Keep in mind, there are extra needed precautions to protect other animals.

    -Contact trace. Try to figure out if your fur kid has been in close contact with someone with COVID. If so, for what time period, and when did that contact happen? This is key to help confirm and to figure out incubation days of the virus

    – CALL before going into the Veterinarian’s Office. This is key, as it will help keep down the chance of spreading to other animals. Your veterinarian might have you wait in your car, bring you in through a more private entrance, some might even choose a video exam at first. By calling ahead you allow the facility to put any precautions or processes in place to protect everyone

    – Prepare Your Home & Environment for Treatment and Care of the Animal. If COVID is diagnosed, you’ll need to plan on isolating the pet from any other animals. The isolation period is calculated from the first known signs of symptoms, so it could last 5 to 8 days. Keep food and fluids in an isolation area. Again, the likelihood of you contacting COVID from your pet is nearly non-existent, so you can still be a loving caretaker. The real difficulty will be keeping other pets out, and the sick pet in isolation. Rest and recovery in a warm, comfortable, and familiar environment is the best possible medicine.

    There are no COVID home tests for animals that are recommended.  Due to the low rates of COVID in pets your veterinarian will test for other illness or cause as well. There currently is no COVID vaccine for pets, so you veterinarian will give specific instructions for home isolation and treatment if COVID is diagnosed.

Lastly, keep in mind that COVID in animals is not common, and those who are diagnosed are highly likely to fully recover with few problems.

That’s our look at COVID in companion animals. Like with any other illnesses your pets might have, we suggest you bring in the professionals, be prepared with important information so you can give real facts and information, keep calm before you go to the veterinarian, and ask questions while you listen to diagnoses and treatment instructions. The more calm and prepared you are, the faster and more smoothly the process will go.

Keep in mind that this is the winter season. Regardless where you live, the weather is different. Be sure outdoor animals halve access to warm shelter, water, and food. Indoor animals will feel the change as well, as their sleeping and eating routines and norms might be impacted by time change and the shorter days. Be patient and understanding as they adjust..

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read our Dog Blog. We have over a years worth of blogs available at our web home. We are sure you’ll find more informative and entertaining reading there.

Until next time, remember to have fun with your fur kids. They are the only ones in your life that see you as perfect just the way you are. Always strive to be happy, always be safe, and above all else… always be Pet Friendly, #FreddieSez!