Studies done in Canada and the Netherlands confirm that cats and dogs can contract COVID-19 infections from their owners.
Cats that sleep on their owner’s bed seem to be at the highest risk. Time spent playing with, or petting dogs did not seem to increase the risk of infection.
Infections in pets were usually mild, with some dogs being overly tired and having a lack of appetite and some cats having a runny nose and respiratory difficulties.
Some pets had a cough or diarrhea. In all studies done, only 3 cats became severely ill. But many of the pets showed no signs of illness.
The researchers believe that the pets caught the infection from their humans, and not the other way around. They noted that when people don’t feel good, they often enjoy cuddling in bed with their cats, and cats like to be close to their human’s face, increasing their exposure to respiratory droplets.
The researchers in the study state that it is important for people with COVID-19 infections to social distance from their pets, and to keep their pets away from other animals.
“While the evidence that pets can pass the virus on to other pets is limited, it can’t be excluded. Similarly, although pets have not been shown to pass the virus back to people, the possibility can’t be completely ruled out”, states Dorothee Bienzle, DVM, Ph.D., professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph.
Marcia Shumate, RN Infection Prevention and Employee Health at Palo Pinto General Hospital
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