A study has found out that pet owners who have been diagnosed with COVID19 infection can transmit the virus to their cats and dogs. Veterinary experts from Canada have advised pet owners who are suspected to have contracted the virus, to stay away from their pets. They have claimed that cats and dogs might as well show respiratory symptoms after being infected with the coronavirus. Although there is no evidence of human to animal transmission of the virus, however, it might be possible, as the virus does not vary between the species. Experts have observed households with pets, where pets have been dealing with respiratory issues and at the same time, members of the households have been infected with COVID19.
The preliminary results of the study have shown that a substantial section of pets has been infected with the virus in the household of people with COVID19. Experts have asked pet owners who have been diagnosed with COVID19 to submit the swab of their pets for further testing. People, who have been outside the two-week window of suspected contagious state, their pets have been tested for antibodies to find any recent or past infection. Experts have used IgM and IgG antibodies for such testing. All the cats with positive antibodies have been reported to have respiratory issues and other ailments at the time of their owners’ infection. Nearly 20 percent of pet dogs have been reported to have IgG antibody, which indicates a past infection. Such pet dogs have been diagnosed with respiratory disease as well.
However, no dog has been found to have IgM antibody during the study, which indicates a more recent infection. The author of the study, Dorothee Bienzle has said that pets with COVID19 infected owners end up developing antibodies. There has been very little time window to diagnose current infections in pets if the owner has still been sick, that’s why the author has said that a blood test on animals for past infection is necessary to assess the transmission. Experts have said that ferrets and other related species like mink are highly prone to infection. The spread of the virus from mink to human has been reported earlier where many animals have been kept in closed quarters. Animal to human transmission has not been very prevalent, since the virus changes very less or does not change at all after the human to pet transmission, such reverse spread of the virus might happen. There are many studies, which suggest that people with COVID19 should stay away from people and their pets.