No doubt you have heard of the Coronavirus by now – the whole world is talking about it. With still so many questions unanswered, it can get a little bit scary. We do know that it is spreading quickly and, unfortunately, we know that it can cause death, but we’re still very much in the dark when it comes to what is going on…
And, what does all this mean for our canine companions?
Over the past few weeks, we have been faced with a multitude of questions; ‘can dogs get Coronavirus?’, ‘can Coronavirus kill dogs?’ and, ‘if I have the virus, can I give it to my dog?’. All we can say is, try not to over worry and panic.
Okay, first and foremost, let’s get a few things straight. With the media and the public referring to this illness as ‘Coronavirus’, the truth is, that is actually an umbrella term used for a family of viruses.
This current strain of Coronavirus, discovered in late December 2019, is actually called 2019-CoV or Covid-19. You may have already come across these other names when reading about the virus. We, as a population, have come into contact with other strands of Coronavirus…SARS (2003) and MERS (2015). Both of these illnesses caused very similar panic and stress, but since finding a vaccination, the global community has been able to relax.
The Covid-19 strain is believed to have come from a market in Wuhan, China. It is thought that the first infected person contracted the virus after consuming exotic animals that were carrying the illness; snakes and bats.
In China alone, there are over 80,000 cases of people who have contracted the virus. Worldwide, there are believed to be around 116,345 people infected with the illness, with 729 in the United States, 321 in the United Kingdom and 77 in Canada.
Now, although these numbers seem scary, with the death toll rising to over 4,000 globally, many more people are recovering from this strain of Coronavirus – 64,600 and counting.
One of the big questions is, ‘can animals get Covid-19?’ Well, the answer is, yes. To this day, it is believed that it originated from animals (snakes), so this would suggest that animals can indeed contract – and pass on – the illness. Unlike human to human, it seems that to contract this strain from an animal would entail someone to consume the infected animal meat.
We don’t know for sure if this is the only way a human can contract the illness from an animal, as it is still being investigated by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) at this time.
Over the past few weeks, the first reported case of a dog contracting Covid-19 has surfaced. A Pomeranian in Hong Kong is now under two-week quarantine after samples taken from their mouth and nose tested ‘weak positive’ for the virus - presumed to have caught the illness from their infected owner.
In late February 2020, the Pomeranian was taken to the vet for a check and is still believed to be the only pup to have tested positive for the virus. Having shown no other symptoms of the infection, the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) are still uncertain whether cats and dogs can contract the disease from humans - the dog in question could have become contaminated as a result of the environment.
Although this particular pup has contracted the Covid-19 strain, dogs have been able to contract Canine Coronavirus Disease since before this current strain outbreak. As far as we know, the two strains are not linked – Canine Coronavirus Disease and the Covid-19.
Canine Coronavirus is called this due to its similar characteristics – a circular, crown-shaped appearance when examined under a microscope. It has been found that most cases of Canine Coronavirus are caused by dogs eating the poop of another dog that is carrying the illness. So, it’s quite simple, don’t let your pup eat poop!
If you’re still unsure and think your dog may have contracted the virus, there are a few – yet rare – symptoms.
Particularly with dogs, Coronavirus doesn’t show the same symptoms as it does with humans. However, your pup may suffer from a sudden bout of diarrhea, lack of appetite or may become lethargic, with very little energy. If you notice your dog’s loose stools contain mucus or blood, this could also be a sign that they have contracted the Coronavirus.
But this still doesn’t mean your dog 100% has the virus. The above symptoms could lead to a vast number of other health issues. Either way, take your pup to the vet as soon as possible, just to find the cause of their change in health.
There is a lot of hysteria surrounding this strain of the coronavirus, and although it shouldn’t be ignored, there is no need to send yourself into a terrible panic over Covid-19.
If you think you may have contracted the virus, please call your doctor as soon as possible to check. If they suspect you may have it, follow their instructions and try to take the necessary precautions so that you do not spread the illness further.
As said above, past strains of the Coronavirus have been passed from mammals (civets and camels) to humans, but we’re still unsure whether that is the case with Covid-19. We haven’t had any confirmation regarding how the Pomeranian in Hong Kong contracted the illness.
Still, one of the main precautions is good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap, particularly after being outside and always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. This WILL prevent the spread of the disease.
When it comes to your pup, the best thing you can do is support their immune system and stop them from eating poop. You could introduce a doggy Multivitamin or Probiotic to their diet, to promote optimal overall health. Both can help your pup fight off viruses trying to attack their immune system. Plus, ramp up their bathing routine and always make sure that you’re picking up after them as quickly as possible. These are a few steps you can take to try and avoid your pup contracting Coronavirus.
We're only aware of the one case in Hong Kong, other than that, there are no reported cases of any more dogs carrying or contracting the Covid-19 strain of Coronavirus.
The Coronavirus strain SARS is believed to have originated from the native tropical cats, Civets, whilst MERS came from a breed of camel. Then there is Covid-19, which is thought to have come from consuming snakes sold at the market in Wuhan.
With no current cases of dogs contracting the illness, we cannot say for certain that they cannot pass it to us. However, according to the CDC, there is no current reason to believe that this strain can be transmitted and spread by our furry friends from us.
It is very, very easy to get sucked into the panic that surrounds the Coronavirus illness at this current moment in time, but you don't need to panic. As long as we all look after ourselves, keep our hands clean, avoid touching our faces before we have washed them and making sure we sneeze or cough into a tissue, we should be able to keep one an other healthy. Make sure that your pup keeps clean and keep them from eating poop!