Can pets contract COVID-19 from their owners? They certainly can.
Two new studies show that COVID-19 is fairly prevalent among cats and dogs in households where the virus has been transmitted.
Owners Frequently Pass On COVID To Pets
According to the research, the danger of transmission appears to be in the other direction, with sick owners frequently – but not always – passing the virus on to Dog and Kitty.
According to Dr. Dorothee Bienzle, if someone has COVID-19, there is a shockingly high possibility that they may pass it on to their pet. She is the lead author of one research and a professor and veterinary pathologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
According to Bienzle, cats appear to be much more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection through their owners than dogs.
They were aware that both cats and dogs are vulnerable to COVID-19, but she said they did not expect such a high infection rate in cats living with COVID-19-positive people.
Bienzle and her colleagues discovered that more than two-thirds of cats in COVID-19 households eventually became infected with the virus, compared to only 43 percent of dogs, after running antibody tests on 48 cats and 54 dogs drawn from 77 different households where an owner had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Bienzle stated that it is still unknown why cats appear to be more vulnerable.
Proneness to infection is determined by a variety of variables, including how much of the receptor is expressed in the nose, mouth, eyes, trachea [windpipe], and lung, as well as how efficiently the virus can enter cells after attaching to the receptor. They believe that these variables differ between dogs and cats, but they are unsure.
Bienzle’s team does know that the infection susceptibility is much reduced in pets that do not reside near COVID-19 patients. Antibody testing on 75 cats residing in animal shelters indicated that less than 10% possessed COVID-19 antibodies. And among the 75 stray cats examined, that proportion dropped to only 3%.
Bienzle’s takeaway is that she does not believe dogs pose a significant health risk to people.
Dr. Els Broens, a European veterinary expert in veterinary microbiology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, agrees.
According to Broens, co-author of the second pet research, the most likely route of transmission appears to be from person to pet.
She and her colleagues reached this conclusion after testing 156 dogs and 155 cats from 196 families with COVID-19-positive individuals.
SARS-CoV-2 positive pets were found in 20% of homes, according to Broens. However, when compared to previous studies in dogs and cats that were not in direct contact with COVID-19 positive people, this proportion is very high.
This data, she says, clearly implies that pets are unlikely to play a large part in the epidemic, with transmission flowing from owner to pet rather than the other way around.
Ever since pet owners became more worried about their four-legged friends, both Broens and Bienzle have good news that while a small percentage of pet COVID-19 cases may be severe, both types of research discovered that when cats and dogs do contract COVID-19, their symptoms are typically mild, and a full recovery is a norm.
And there may be easy solutions to eliminate the danger of pet illness.
To that end, Broens advises affected pet owners to avoid contact with their animals as much as possible and to keep their pets indoors as much as possible.
Similarly, Bienzle stated that sick owners may safeguard their dogs in the same manner as they would protect themselves from an infected person by not breathing the same air, preserving distance, and practicing excellent hand hygiene.
And that’s especially crucial for cats, she says, because the study found that infection risk appeared to be higher among cats that spend more time with their infected owners and sleep in the same bed.