Scientists are baffled about dogs and Covid. They do not have a clear understanding how this virus is being transmitted in either animals or in humans. This is in spite of many studies looking into this topic.
However, there has been a new study that gives more information on the transmission of the corona virus that helps them understand it a bit better. This study deals not only with dogs and Covid, it includes data on cats as well.
You will find a link to this study at the conclusion of this article.
An Introduction To The Topic Of Dogs And Covid
Covid-19 is caused by a fairly well known virus that is believed to have originated in wild animals. At some point in time, it jumped from them to humans. This is known as a zoonotic disease.
The results of this virus continues to have a significant impact on our society in many ways. In addition to documented human death, the associated lockdowns and mandates have taken their toll as well
Up this point, the full implications for cats and dogs have been largely unknown. There are ongoing studies looking into this topic.
Earliest Reports On Dogs And Covid Reassured Us That They Could NOT Catch Covid
Subsequently, the virus has been documented in both dogs and cats, including the Bronx Zoo tigers. However, the evidence does suggest that they are not known to have the same clinical disease development as seen in humans.
Dogs and cats appear to have symptoms consistent with respiratory problems and also demonstrate a decreased appetite.
In the study referenced, Bosco-Lauth told Inverse: “While the animals in our study did not develop clinical signs of disease, it doesn’t rule out individual variability and/or co-morbidities in cats and dogs which could lead to signs.”
Covid Transmission Differences Between Dogs And Cats
Although neither species develop clinical Covid disease, they can transmit the virus. However, they do so in different ways. This latest study is considered to be preliminary and more work needs to done.
However, it does give us an idea as to just how susceptible our fur babies really are to catching COVID. This study was recently published in a recognized journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Does Shedding Play A Role In Dogs And Covid Transmission?
A virus that reproduces inside of an animal’s cells and is then released into their environment is known as one that “Sheds”. There has been a lot of concern about shedding with dogs, cats and humans.
While cats shed for as many as five days, it does not appear that dogs shed this virus at all. Cats can become infected by direct contact with another infected cat.
What does this tell us? It appears that “cats are highly susceptible to infection, with a prolonged period of oral and nasal viral shedding that is not accompanied by clinical signs, and are capable of direct contact transmission to other cats.”
This is according to the authors of the study which was led by Angela Bosco-Lauth, a Colorado State University researcher.
Some Zoonotic Diseases Can Benefit Humans Or Other Animals
The latest studies indicate that SARS-CoV-2 infected cats mount a strong immune response. They do not appear to become re-infected.
This is very good news for both the cat and for humans! It is possible that scientists can use this information to develop a safe and effective vaccine for animals. Ultimately, researchers hope that they can apply this to humans as well.
Ferrets are another possiblilty. They have already started vaccine tests in pigs, rhesus macaques and mice. However, to date, the most widely studied Covid-19 animal model is the golden hamster.
More Than Vaccines, We Can Learn About Treatments As Well
Are you familiar with the Pangolin? This animal was once considered as a possible intermediary host for Covid-19. While it can become infected, it does not demonstrate a strong immune response needed to become seriously ill as do humans. (cytokine storm)
Learning why the Pangolin becomes infected without developing a cytokine storm might help scientists create improved treatments for humans and save lives.
There Is NO need for alarm for dog and cat owners
“The risk of cat-to-human infection is considered extremely low, by us and other experts in the field, but not completely out of the question…..We would advise pet owners to take precautions around their pets if they (the owner) develops Covid-19 disease as they could certainly spread it to their pets and from there, pets could transmit to each other or potentially to other humans or wildlife.”
Keeping Cats and Dogs Safe From Covid
Treat them just as you would the other members of your family.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Maintain social distancing from other animals outside of the family
- Warn your veterinarian about any potential risk of exposure
- Maintaining appropriate distances from sick members of the family
Here is the promised link to the study referenced early in the article above: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/09/28/2013102117
Study referenced regarding transmission of Covid: https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/hong-kong-dog-causes-panic-but-heres-why-you-neednt-worry-about-pets-spreading-covid-19
Photo of Bella in a mask and Bella and Emma kissing are from the family album