According to an Alberta veterinarian, some household pets are particularly prone to COVID.
ST. ALBERT — Eveline Scouten, a daycare attendant at K9 Awareness in St. Albert, Alberta, had heard of kennel cough in dogs before, but not COVID-19.
We haven't heard anything about it. There haven't been any unusual symptoms that I've seen. There hasn't been any illness. We haven't observed anything out of the ordinary, she said.
Should pet owners be concerned about COVID-19 infection?
Dr. Daren Mandrusiak, an exotic animal veterinarian at Edmonton's Harvest Pointe Animal Hospital, said that in his practice, pet owners frequently ask about COVID, and that certain pets can contract COVID-19 in specific circumstances.
If you're truly sick, you should probably avoid having close encounters with pets that are more sensitive, such as ferrets, he said.
Ferrets and mink, both members of the weasel family, have extremely similar physiology to humans, according to Mandrusiak, therefore it shouldn't come as a surprise to vets that these animals are likely quite susceptible to the virus.
According to him, ferrets are utilized in science as an experimental model for human respiratory disease in particular instances.
According to a government of Canada website, farmed mink, which are comparable to ferrets, have been infected with COVID-19 in a number of nations. Mink may have infected some workers, according to reports from the Netherlands and Denmark.
Because there are thousands of minks in a limited place, such as a barn, Mandrusiak believes these examples provide an excellent model for an outbreak.
In that event, there could be an outbreak, as well as virus mutation and other issues... He claimed that simply because of the sheer quantity of people, there was a possibility of mutation.
There are measures in place at Mandrusiak's clinic for ferrets with respiratory disease because there is a minor danger to the veterinarians, but there hasn't been a single incident of pets passing COVID-19 to humans, according to a report by the World Organisation for Animal Health.
The majority of people, on the other hand, do not own ferrets.
Companion animals such as dogs, cats, and rodents — even hamsters — are all susceptible to the virus, according to the Government of Canada website, although birds and lizards are not.
Things will be more similar in the mammalian class, merely due to the fact that we have similar body temperatures.
In general, many of these diseases don't like to transmit to animals with drastically different body temperatures, such as reptiles, which are cold-blooded... Our viruses and diseases don't want to jump on them because they "freeze out," according to Mandrusiak.
In terms of having statistics on COVID and pets, Mandrusiak stated it's a bit tough.
According to information on the federal government's website, dogs can contract COVID but cannot pass it on to other canines.
Cats are more vulnerable to the virus than dogs, and they can pass it on to other cats.
We haven't had any large outbreaks of cat COVID-19, as far as I'm aware, since you have three cats, and it passes through them, but it doesn't reach beyond your house because your cats don't hang out at school or anything, according to Mandrusiak.
People with COVID-19 should avoid contact with their pets, according to the Government of Canada's website. If this isn't possible, they advise wearing a mask around them and isolating them as well.
There are no testing for COVID-19 in pets, and if a case exists, it would be diagnosed on the basis of suspicion.
If a pet owner has COVID and their pet develops respiratory problems, it's possible that it's COVID, and the owner should contact their veterinarian, according to Mandrusiak.
In terms of treatment, it's pretty much the same as it is for humans.
There is no particular veterinarian therapy for us. It'll just be rest, possibly some anti-inflammatory medication, and quarantine... He predicted that it would not be spectacular.
Mandrusiak said he hasn't seen a presumptive COVID case in his practice, and his wife, who is also a veterinarian but specializes on cats and dogs, hasn't either.
That merely goes to show how rare even a simple infection may be.