Pets and COVID-19: What You Need to Know
AKRON, Ohio (March 11, 2020) – News of COVID-19, coronavirus is everywhere. You can hardly go an hour without someone mentioning it in conversation or seeing it on social media.
Many pet parents were alarmed earlier this month when health officials said a dog tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong. As an informed pet parent, you may be wondering, "can dogs catch coronavirus?"
Can Cats and Dogs Get Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
To answer that question, we enlisted our AVP of Veterinary Relations, Wendy Hauser, DVM.
"Currently, there is no concrete evidence that this disease can be transmitted to dogs and cats or other mammals. In fact, there is no test for COVID-19 in dogs or cats," she said.
Other experts agree. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) state that there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, spread COVID-19. According to the CDC, no animals in the U.S. have been identified with the virus.
Of course, according to Dr. Hauser, if your pet is exhibiting any symptoms that have you worried, she recommends having them examined by your veterinarian.
Does Pet Insurance Cover COVID-19?
According to our policy language, at this point, any treatment for COVID-19 coronavirus infections in dogs and cats would not be excluded due to the "pandemic exclusion" unless the U.S. Department of Agriculture declares a pandemic or epidemic. If that were to occur, we will communicate regularly to address the situation as it develops.
The well-recognized diseases of Canine Coronavirus, Feline Enteric Coronavirus, and Feline Infectious Peritonitis-FIP are not the same as COVID-19. The first two diseases are very mild and self-limiting, so it is unlikely that care would be necessary for infected dogs and cats. FIP is a more severe disease and often requires veterinary care.
Signs Your Pet May Be Sick
So, whatever the ailment, here are some general guidelines to help determine if a trip to the veterinarian is needed.
Whether your pup is typically an energetic bundle of joy or a chilled-out senior dog, these signs could indicate there is something amiss.
- Behavior Changes: Does your energetic dog no longer want to go for a walk? Has a generally happy attitude turned easily agitated or fearful? These types of changes could indicate an underlying illness.
- Appearance: Eyes, ears, mouth, fur, and skin – they can all tell a story. For instance, certain ailments can lead to hair loss. Be on the lookout for any irregularities in these areas.
- Physical Issues: Vomiting, diarrhea, potty problems, breathing trouble, or fever – Similar to humans, these obvious signs can all indicate your dog is sick.
Don't let your cat's cool demeanor fool you, our notoriously independent feline friends are well-versed in hiding (literally and figuratively) when they're not feeling well.
- Grooming: Cats are diligent about maintaining a healthy coat. If you notice your cat has become unkempt, is over-grooming, or even shedding more than usual, this may be a sign there is an issue.
- Weight: Since cats typically weigh in at less than ten pounds on average, it's not as easy to track a sudden loss or gain. Yet, this is a telltale sign of illness. Another weight-related sign that could be more noticeable is a loss of appetite. Watch your cat’s behavior at feeding time, and keep an eye on the level of food in their bowl.
- Other Physical Issues: Cats are known for their bright, clear eyes. Notice a cloudy film or discharge? That's a problem. Regarding bad breath, it's certainly common amongst most animals. That said, if it’s so awful that it's making you gag, that could be a sign of a number of issues, including kidney disease.
- Behavior Changes: As noted above for dogs, typically, a sick cat will act differently. Be on the lookout for changes in energy level or social interaction. Another area to keep an eye on is the litter box. If they stop using it or start using it more, this is a common sign your cat is sick.