I have a question for Dr. Universe: Can pets develop COVID-19?
This subject is being investigated by a large number of researchers all around the world. While scientists don't yet fully understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus affects domestic pets, we do know a few things.
Dr. Raelynn Farnsworth, a Washington State University veterinarian, told me all about it.
According to her, the danger of domestic pets transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans is now quite low. However, if a human with the virus comes into close contact with an animal, such as a cat or dog, the infection can spread.
Scientists from WSU and the University of Washington wanted to look into a similar question to the one you've raised at the start of the epidemic. They paid visits to dogs whose owners were suffering with COVID-19, an illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The cats and dogs were tested for the virus by placing a little swab up their noses. Perhaps you or someone you know has undergone a similar exam. Because cats' noses are so small, Farnsworth says it's a little more difficult to run a swab test on them. Instead, veterinarians may provide a throat swab to the cats.
None of the pets in the neighborhoods they surveyed had COVID-19 symptoms. Sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes, and a fever are common symptoms.
Some cats and dogs showed no signs of illness, but they did have something else going on. Antibodies were discovered by the researchers. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body in response to a foreign material in the body, such as SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies are produced to aid in the battle against future diseases.
This is only one of several research on pets and COVID-19 that have been conducted throughout the world. COVID-19 instances in animals are still being investigated by scientists. In September 2021, for example, the first instance of COVID-19 in a ferret in the United States was reported in Florida.
The mink, according to Farnsworth, is a ferret-related mammal. Researchers discovered early in the epidemic that people may carry the virus on to mink, and that mink can also pass it on to humans.
COVID-19 has also been discovered in tigers, lions, otters, nonhuman primates, hippos, and white-tailed deer. We're continually discovering more about how humans and other animals transmit diseases.
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Healthy Pets, Healthy People" page at cdc.gov/healthypets/covid-19 if you have further questions regarding COVID-19 in household pets or want to learn more about COVID-19 in other species.
Kolton, thank you for your interesting inquiry. While there is still much more study to be done on COVID-19, including how it affects our dogs, it's encouraging to know that there are clever and compassionate experts working to help us learn more. They work tirelessly to ensure that humans and their pets are safe and healthy.