During this unprecedented time of uncertainty, we at Southwest Vet want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to keep you, your pets, and our staff healthy and safe. Part of that plan includes providing you with the latest information about coronaviruses, including how they affect pets, and what we are doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
WHO can get coronavirus?
Coronaviruses represent a wide variety of viruses under a single family known as coronaviridae. These exceedingly common microorganisms cause varying disease levels in a multitude of species, but a coronavirus rarely jumps from one species to another.
Dogs are susceptible to two types of coronaviruses. One, dubbed canine coronavirus, or CCoV, causes diarrhea, inappetence, and lethargy, and is chiefly a disease of puppies. CCoV is typically short-lived, but highly contagious. Canine respiratory coronavirus, CRCoV, belongs to a different sub-group of coronaviruses, and is often a component of the condition commonly known as “kennel cough.” CRCoV is also highly contagious, but generally causes only mild disease.
Cats are susceptible to a feline coronavirus, FCoV, that causes mild diarrhea in the majority of affected cats. The virus is common, and most cats display mild illness during the course of infection. A more serious and virulent form of the virus can occur in unfortunate cats, causing a condition known as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Why or how the virulent form takes hold is not widely known, but genetics and individual immune responses are thought to play a role.
Coronaviruses are a frequent cause of the common cold in people, generally causing mild to moderate respiratory disease. Rarely, more virulent forms can infect people, including the viruses that cause SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and COVID-19. These three more serious forms originated in other animals, suggesting the virus “jumped” from one species to another, which is rare. While the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to have originated from bats, it appears to be a disease primarily of humans. Currently, there is no evidence that:
- Canine or feline coronaviruses can jump to humans, or vice versa
- Pets can become sick from COVID-19
- Pets can pass COVID-19 to people.
WHAT do I do if my pet has signs of respiratory disease or fever?
Fevers and respiratory signs, such as coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge, are common in pets, and can be caused by numerous veterinary conditions, including:
- Kennel cough, caused by a variety of microorganisms such as CRCoV and Bordetella bronchispetica.
- Upper respiratory infection
- Heartworm disease
- Nasopharyngeal polyps
- Heart disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Collapsing trachea
Since your pet is unlikely to get sick from the novel coronavirus, don’t panic if she develops similar signs to COVID-19. Rather, call us to set up a drop-off appointment, so we can properly care for your pet, while also keeping with social distancing recommendations. If you and your pet are both ill with COVID-19 signs (i.e., fever and dry cough), contact your medical provider, along with the local public health department.
WHEN will pets be tested for COVID-19?
Actually, they are already being tested. IDEXX laboratories, a leading veterinary diagnostic company, has tested thousands of domestic dogs and cats for the novel coronavirus in the United States. The results have been remarkably reassuring, with not a single positive test in the study so far. Two cases of dogs in China testing positive for COVID-19 have been reported, but both dogs were asymptomatic, and living with infected owners. This suggests that the virus may be able to infect pets, but not necessarily cause disease.
WHERE can I get more information about coronavirus and pets?
The following trusted resources should provide you with all of the necessary, accurate information regarding coronaviruses and pets:
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA)
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
As always, feel free to contact us with any additional questions or concerns.
WHY can’t I vaccinate my pet for the novel coronavirus?
While vaccines exist for select canine and feline coronaviruses, they offer no protection against COVID-19, as this is a completely different viral species. Additionally, since COVID-19 does not appear to cause disease in domestic animals like dogs and cats, a vaccine for pets does not seem necessary at this time.
HOW is Southwest Vet making steps to ensure our safety?
Don’t worry, Southwest Vet is still available for your pet’s care, but we are doing things a little differently. In general, we will be offering “curbside” service and drop-off appointments, to best protect you and our staff. Head to our “News” page for the most up-to-date information regarding our COVID-19 protocols, or call us at 512-696-3980.