With the recent coronavirus outbreak, it’s no wonder people are worried about the dangers of coronavirus in cats and other animals. It’s scary to think that our beloved pets could get ill, or worse yet, could get us and our family ill. However, you can set your mind at ease, as the recent human coronavirus strains, SARS, MERS, and Wuhan, pose no danger to your pets.
Unfortunately, there has been a mass spread of misinformation, and sources from China are already sharing news related to people worrying about coronavirus in dogs and other beloved pets. Some pet owners have even opted to put masks on their pets, and there have been witness reports of pets being either abandoned or killed due to unrealistic fears of contracting the virus from them.
Below, we will clear up the facts to help shed some light on the matter.
Can Animals Get Coronavirus?
There are certain strains of coronavirus in cats, as well as strains that are found exclusively in dogs, bats, horses, pigs, cows, and many other animals. However, these individual strains cannot be transmitted to humans. Although the current coronavirus outbreak likely originated from a wildlife source at a live animal market located in China, it poses no danger to our pets (and thus, there is no risk of the virus being brought to our homes by our pets).
It is important to note that coronaviruses are very species-specific, making transmission from animals to people uncommon. So, although dogs can get canine coronavirus, it doesn’t mean they can get the new mutated coronavirus. Therefore, you can rest assured that there is absolutely no risk of contracting the new strain of coronavirus from your beloved furry friend.
The Current Coronavirus Outbreak and Its Effect on Animals
As mentioned, there is a lot of misinformation, and many people turn to the media rather than professionals for knowledge, which is very often a mistake. Understandably, people are scared, but it shouldn’t lead to abuse, abandonment, or death of an animal.
Aside from the tragic deaths of many beloved pets due to their owners being misinformed about getting feline coronavirus and other strains from animals, there are many pets that are still suffering. The city of Wuhan is still on lockdown, and many pet owners have fled the town, not knowing how long they would have to stay away. Unfortunately, not all could take their pets with them when they fled. Currently, it is estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 pets are left behind in locked homes without food or water.
Thankfully, there is a handful of volunteers working closely with homeowners to enter their homes and take care of their pets. Further reports show that many animals have also been abandoned on the streets. And due to coronavirus, dogs and cats, presumably well taken care of in the past, have now become homeless because of the fears of their misinformed owners.
Sadly, the damage is done, though we still hope that people will get informed and understand that their pets don’t pose any danger to them.
Understanding Feline Enteric Coronavirus
Also known as FCoV, it is a common infection in cats, but there is no history of it being transferred to humans. The virus is spread through the ingestion of virus-infected feces or close contact with an infected cat. Although FCoV itself may not pose an immediate danger to your cat, its mutation, FIP, is usually fatal, though uncommon.
Feline Coronavirus Symptoms
Most cats don’t show any symptoms of coronavirus, and unfortunately, it usually spreads to other cats in the household without being noticed. While otherwise seemingly healthy, some cats may experience diarrhea for a few days and shed the virus for a few months. However, if the cat contracts the virus again, the virus has a higher chance of mutating into the deadly FIP form.
Coronavirus in Cats Treatment
There is currently no known treatment for the virus, and usually, it is recommended that stress to the cat be reduced to a minimum to prevent the virus from mutating to FIP. Unfortunately, in multi-cat homes, isolating the infected cat may not prevent the virus from spreading, as the other cats most likely already got it. The key is to reduce stress to any cats that are diagnosed with FCoV as much as possible, because, as mentioned, the only way it can be fatal is if it mutates to FIP.
Understanding Coronavirus in Puppies
Although the virus in dogs is short-lived, it can cause severe abdominal discomfort. Similar to the coronavirus strain in cats, the virus is usually transmitted via infected fecal matter, contaminated food bowls, or direct contact with a dog that is infected. If visible, symptoms can appear one to four days after contracting the virus.
Coronavirus Symptoms in Dogs
Just like with cats, symptoms are usually lacking when a dog gets infected. There may be some severe symptoms, but it isn’t common, and they generally occur in younger puppies. One of the most typical symptoms of the virus is a sudden onset of diarrhea. This may be combined with decreased appetite or lethargy. However, if your puppy experiences a sudden onset of diarrhea that lasts for more than 24 hours, it is crucial that you take it to the vet immediately, as it could also be a sign of parvovirus, which is potentially deadly to puppies.
Canine Coronavirus Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the coronavirus found in dogs. The only thing that may be considered a treatment option is to withhold food for at least 24 hours once the diarrhea stops, and then reintroduce it slowly. If the dog is dehydrated, it may require fluids intravenously. The sooner you catch the virus, the better. It is imperative to take the dog to the vet to provide it with comfort and much-needed fluids if needed.
Canine Coronavirus Vaccine
Although there is a vaccine for the canine strain of coronavirus, it isn’t always recommended. It is not suitable for all dogs, and the vaccine may be administered only after a detailed review of the animal’s health, history, lifestyle, and overall risk assessment.
What Other Common Pets Can Get Coronavirus?
Aside from many exotic pets, a number of common animals that we see every day can get coronavirus, too. We must remind you that, even though there are coronavirus strains found in nearly every animal, including humans, it cannot be transmitted from species to species.
Coronavirus in Horses
Just like cats and dogs, horses can get coronavirus, as well. Unlike in humans, and just like in cats and dogs, it primarily affects the animal’s digestive system. Common symptoms of coronavirus seen in horses are fever, lethargy, and anorexia. Other potential symptoms are colic and change in the consistency of fecal matter. Though most cases are resolved with supportive care, in some severe cases, equine coronavirus can lead to death or necessary euthanasia.
Coronavirus has been around for many, many years, and it will continue to be around long after the current outbreak is controlled. Unfortunately, many people are just now hearing about it for the first time, and fear causes misinformation to spread like wildfire.
If you still have questions, check out the most commonly asked questions about the virus below.
Where did coronavirus come from?
Although it is difficult to trace where coronavirus came from, the first isolation of such viruses was in 1937. It was discovered in birds with an infectious bronchitis that devastated a poultry stock. Furthermore, coronaviruses are responsible for about 20% to 30% of common colds and are common in nearly every animal type. Currently, there are seven known types of coronavirus that can affect humans.
Can coronavirus in dogs spread to humans?
No, it is impossible to get coronavirus from your dog – or any other animal for that matter. Although the virus can mutate, it is rare for it to do so from species to species. It is true that the current coronavirus outbreak has mutated from an animal (the main suspect is a bat) to affect humans, but this is a very rare case, and the same should not be expected from coronaviruses found in cats, dogs, and other common pets and animals we eat.
How do cats get coronavirus?
Cats, dogs, and other animals get coronavirus either through consuming infected feces, eating from a contaminated food bowl, using the same litter box or area for relieving themselves, or merely being in direct contact with an infected animal of the same species.
Yes, coronavirus is huge in the media right now, but that doesn’t mean we should be afraid of our pets or animals in general. Coronavirus in dogs can’t be transmitted to their owners, and animals should not suffer due to human misinformation and fear.
The current strain of coronavirus that is affecting, and ultimately killing people, can only be transmitted from one human to another, and it cannot spread back to animals. Although it is essential to protect yourself by increasing hand hygiene, staying at least a meter away from anyone sneezing or coughing, and avoiding travel, there is no need to protect your pets or yourself from them.
Coronavirus in cats has been around for many years and will continue to exist in the future without affecting humans. Don’t fall for the media frenzy, learn the facts, and if you think that your pet may have an animal strain of coronavirus, take them to the vet.