As experts warn pet owners with Covid to avoid contact with their pets, following a study in the Netherlands showing that “coronavirus is common in pet cats and dogs where their owners have the disease”, vets are reassuring pet lovers that Covid poses no real threat to our best friends – and that they are “unlikely” to play a role in the pandemic.
The study from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands tested cats and dogs for Covid-19 in households that had the virus. It found that 4 per cent of dogs and cats had positive PCR tests indicating active infection and 17 per cent had antibodies indicating prior infection, suggesting that around 20 per cent of exposed pets may have been infected.
However, any symptoms in pets were very mild, and no instances were found of pets infecting humans. While nothing was ruled out, in all cases observed infection went the other way around. The study also suggests that pets do not pass the virus on to other pets.
Vicky Bridges, regional veterinary manager for My Family Vets practices in the South of England, says, “The latest study today suggests that it seems unlikely that pets play a role in the pandemic. We want to reassure pet owners today that we are not concerned for our pets’ health at all.
“There is currently no evidence of spread of Covid from pets to humans – or from dogs and cats to other animals. The latest research backs up other evidence that the most likely route of virus transmission is from human to animal, rather than the other way round.
“If dogs and cats have been infected, they usually have no symptoms, or very mild respiratory symptoms or diarrhoea. The virus passes quickly and most will recover really well.”
She adds, “We are not seeing an increase in suspected cases across our My Family Vet practices across the UK. Our advice is to continue seeking all your usual healthcare from your vet, and if you do have any concerns, do speak to your vet.
“It has been advised to distance as much as possible from your pets if you do have Covid-19 and it would be advisable to keep them isolated too if there is infection in the family home and avoid others walking your dog.
“If you are able to keep your cat indoors without causing them distress, whilst you isolate, then that would also be advisable. But rest assured there is currently no evidence that you can catch Covid from your pet.”