The Coronavirus problem is getting worse by the day and now many pet owners are sure to be wondering if their pet can catch it. The short answer is “yes,” and the long answer is “yes, but…”.
In short, pets can catch coronavirus, but it’s not the same one that humans get, and they can’t pass it on to you.
Research suggests that animals are indeed vulnerable to coronavirus, which is the name for a vast family of pathogens. Much like with the flu, birds can catch avian coronavirus, pigs can catch porcine/swine coronavirus, horses can get infected with equine coronavirus, and so on.
Dogs and COVID-19
Dogs are vulnerable to the aptly-named “canine coronavirus”. It passes through their systems quickly but is nevertheless a massive discomfort for them. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and intestinal problems. The virus spreads through poop, which is another reason – if you needed one – not to let your dog eat poop.
Dogs may also catch a respiratory variety of the coronavirus. This version causes coughing and sneezing in dogs.
Cats and Covid-19
Feline coronavirus is much tamer by comparison and hardly ever a cause for concern. They might have some flu-like symptoms, or they may seem to be perfectly fine. The risk is that for some cases – around 5-10% - the virus mutates and becomes Feline Infectious Peritonitis. This is a progressive disease that is almost always fatal for cats and is most common in kittens.
What About Other Animals and Pets?
Viruses are not known for respecting the boundaries between different species. They can – and will - strike anyone and anything.
Coronavirus strains from different animals have been known to swap genes and become more interchangeable between different species. Some varieties of feline coronavirus contain genes from dog and pig coronavirus. This can happen when the same virus infects multiple species at once.
Infection from animals may occur when humans have similar receptors to their animals. If the virus from an animal could bind to human cell receptors, then it can infect us and make us sick. This is likely what has happened with the current outbreak as humans have similar cell receptors to bats. Bats have been identified as animal carriers of the current COVID-19 virus.
The good news is that the receptors for humans and cats/dogs are too different for them to possibly infect us. There are yet to be any reported cases of pets getting human coronavirus or humans getting the coronavirus from their pets.