I really was not hoping, or even guessing, that I’d need to write my 200th blog piece on a topic like “Should I Treat My Pet Differently During a Global Pandemic?” But here we are. In the previous installment, we discussed the fact that pets have their own coronas which cannot be transmitted to people and have nothing to do with COVID-19. We agreed that pet fur is an inefficient carrier of this virus, but that extra caution wouldn’t be a mistake, in order to protect uninfected humans from those who are currently sick. Pet movement should be restricted if there is a confirmed COVID patient being quarantined to part of your home.
Did you hear that dogs and cats can actually get this disease? That’s a complicated issue, but one we need to discuss. Two dogs have been accused of this, worldwide. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of people with COVID infections worldwide, and every country has their best and brightest working on tracing the origin of these infections. If dogs could give COVID to their human housemates, don’t you think the CDC and World Health Organization would have figured that out by now? Let’s look at the science, though. COVID recognizes its preferred host by spotting a very specific molecule on the inner surface of their airway, and dogs don’t have that same molecule. COVID-19 that gets into a dog’s nose or mouth might be able to stay briefly while it searches in vain for the correct docking point, perhaps just long enough to register positive on a COVID test. Scientists believe that dogs might function as a “dead-end host,” which means that the virus can’t reproduce freely and cannot generate enough offspring to infect a new patient. Therefore, your dog really can’t provide a reliable source of infectious virus and isn’t a threat to you. One of the dogs in the news did die just days after its bout with COVID, but that dog was, after all, 17 years old. This is a bit like a 120-year-old man passing away just days after watching the Chicago Cubs with the World Series. Although it’s tempting to blame the Cubs, it is probably not baseball that ended this man’s life.
There isn’t any evidence that dogs can be harmed by COVID-19. Like everyone else in the world, veterinarians all over the globe are constantly chattering and trading information with each other about new developments with this virus. None of them are talking about an increase in canine respiratory disease or any unusual signs of illness in dogs from COVID-positive homes. If you want the newest information on recent developments or findings, I might recommend the Worms and Germs Blog. It is written by Dr. Scott Weese, who is an infectious disease specialist and probably the most highly regarded veterinary authority on COVID-19. During a recent lecture, he commented that veterinarians were contacting him for guidance several hundred times a day. This is a safe place for you to seek information, and his site is updated very frequently.
Dr. M.S. Regan