Since the outbreak of COVID-19, pets have been a major victim of pandemic. Not because they have contracted the infection but because of social stigma of the pet keepers. Many pet owners have disowned their pets due to a fallacy that pets spread coronavirus.
Moreover, the service animals like dogs and horses with the law enforcing agencies like police, para-military forces, army, etc. needs to taken care of as well for mitigating chances of getting afflicted because of coronavirus.
Although there has been reports that pets have been tested positive for COVID-19 but the investigation reported that the infection was from human to pets and not vice-versa.
There is no evidence as of now that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection. SARS CoV-2 virus has been shown to replicate poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks but efficiently grows in ferrets and cats, through experimental inoculation as per one available report.
Animal reports till now
- On 09 March 2020, one of two dogs tested positive after their owner was hospitalized after COVID-19 infection in Hong Kong. Both the dogs did not develop any clinical sign, however they were kept under 14 days’ quarantine.
- On 06 Apr 2020, a tigeress that had a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City, USA was tested positive for COVID-19. Later on, a total of 5 tigers and 3 lions were tested positive for COVID-19 in the same zoo.
- Similarly on 22 Apr 2020, two cats in New York were reported positive for COVID-19 making them the first pets to get infected from novel coronavirus.
- “Animals, pets, can get infected. There’s no evidence that the virus is transmitted from the pet to a human” Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at the daily coronavirus briefing.
- Further, CDC-US reported that “At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”
- There is no evidence to suggest that imported animals or animal products pose a risk of spreading the 2019 novel coronavirus.
- Further studies are needed due to constantly evolving situation to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing centres for animals in India
The Central Zoo Authority have already recommended that clinical samples from suspect animal cases be sent to the following institutes for COVID-19 testing duly following all bio-containment and safety measures required to handle high risk pathogen as per ICMR guidelines.
- National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD) Laboratory, Bhopal (MP)
- National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE), Hisar (Haryana)
- Centre for Animal Disease Research and diagnosis (CADRAD), Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar, Bareilly (UP)
Pets sick with COVID-19 may have
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Lethargy (unusual laziness or sluggish)
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
Follow all care instructions from your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may have you keep a written log of your pet’s symptoms. If you think that the symptoms are getting worsened, call your veterinarian.
What to do if you pet is positive for COVID-19
- If your pet is tested positive for COVID-19, isolate the pet from everyone else, including other pets.
- Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or any other products not approved for animal use.
- If you think your pet has COVID-19, call a veterinarian first to discuss what you should do.
- Isolate your pet in your home, take your pet for a walk only after prior consent of a veterinarian.
- Only a few pets have been confirmed to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Some pets did not show any signs of illness, but those pets that did get sick all had mild disease that could be taken care of at home. None have died from the infection.
Pet and service animal hygiene and disinfection protocol
- The animal handlers or owners should use mask while handling animals.
- Dog paw wiping/soaking – All the four paws upto pastern joints must be dipped/wiped in a suitable disinfectant like diluted povidone iodine (diluted to ice tea colour) or diluted dettol/savlon for a while after return from duty or outdoor training. However, do remember to dry the paws through soft towel.
- Veterinary Clinics, Dispensaries and Hospitals – Mopping with a disinfectant using 1% sodium hypochlorite or phenolic disinfectants or 5% Lysol.
- Kennels – Bleaching Powder with 70% available chlorine (7 grams to 1 liter water) for floor cleaning. The kennels should also be disinfected with flame gun as dry heat is extremely useful in eliminating all sorts of viral infections.
- The surgical and other clinical equipments – Autoclaving as per norms in vogue.
- Disinfection of floors – 1% sodium hypochlorite or bleaching powder with 70% available chlorine (7 grams to 1 liter water) or 5% Lysol.
- Ambulances/vehicles – 5% Lysol or spraying with 1% freshly prepared sodium hypochlorite. The steering and other parts touched by human beings to be cleaned using 70% alcohol preparations.
- Hand Sanitizer – Frequent washing of hands with soap for 20-30 seconds or 75% Isopropyl Alcohol
- 70% Alcohol can be used to wipe down surfaces where the use of bleach is not suitable, e.g. metal.
- Chloroxylenol (4.5-5.5%)/ Benzalkonium Chloride or any other disinfectants found to be effective against coronavirus may be used as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Always use freshly prepared 1% sodium hypochlorite.
Note: The excerpts has been taken from the advisories of MHA-GoI, CZA-India, CDC-US.
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