COVID-19 and Pets: What You Need to Know

Pets are as important to human beings for pleasure just as they are for companionship. The commonest pets across the world are dogs and cats.

A publication by The Economist reveals that pet cats worldwide will grow by 22% between 2018 and 2024, compared with 18% for dogs. This shows that people will continue to have pets around them.

It is again expected that the COVID-19 era of less public movements by people will translate into individuals and families having more interactions with their pets.

Fact-check Ghana has put together information on COVID-19 and its implications on interacting with pets and animals in general, as put forward by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Although the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was initially linked to some animal to human transmission, actual animal to human transmission now is very rare. The disease is now typically transferred from human to human.

It has, however, been established that some animals have contracted COVID-19 from humans.

The CDC has reported that a small number of pet cats and dogs have been reported to be infected with the virus in several countries, including the United States. Most of these pets became sick after contacts with people with COVID-19.

Again, US public health officials believe that some tigers and lions in a New York zoo that contracted COVID-19 and have recovered had it from an employee of the zoo who was positive with the disease.

To protect pets such as dogs and cats from catching the disease, the CDC recommends the following:

  1. Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam freely outside.
  2. Walk dogs on a leash at least 2 meters away from others.
  3. Avoid public places where a large number of people gather.
  4. Do not put masks on pets. Covering a pet’s face could harm them.
  5. Do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or other products not intended or approved for use on animals.

It should also be noted that a COVID-19 sick owner of a pet ought not to interact closely with the animal, and should avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sharing food, and sleeping in the same bed with a pet.

Supported by STAR Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAID and the European Union

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