Update on Pets and COVID-19 from World Small Animal Veterinary Association
Here are highlights of the document (in italics):
“Globally, less than 200 proven positive cases in small companion animals have been documented. Cats (n = 96) and dogs (n = 77) are most likely to be infected(Data as of February 3, 2021). The majority have had a history of exposure to a person with COVID-19. Of note, the first client-owned ferret was positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR assay in Slovenia in late December 2020; this ferret lived in the home of a person with COVID-19 and exhibited gastrointestinal signs.“
True enough, in many nations there is no available way to test companion animals for COVID-19, and no doubt many pets – domestic cats in particular – have had the virus but without any signs of illness, and have not been tested. Having said that do consider that on the planet at least 110 million COVID‑19 cases and 2.4 million deaths have occured in humans since China reported its first cases to the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2019. Domestic animals, including pets, don’t appear hugely impacted and do not appear to transmit the virus to humans.
“To our knowledge, there have been no proven deaths of a small companion animal directly related to SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
Regarding the variants, particularly the UK and South African variants:
“Whether these variants are more likely to infect the small companion animals living with their owners or are more likely to cause severe disease is unknown but is being evaluated. As recommended from the start of the pandemic, if a family member has signs of COVID-19, they should attempt to quarantine from all family members, including pets and other animals.”
Farmed mink may be able to transmit the SARS CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 back to people. And many thousands (likely far more) mink around the globe have been culled or euthanized.
“In some susceptible species like farmed mink that are housed in large numbers,vaccination may be needed to mitigate transmission and disease. Research intomink vaccination is ongoing.”
In many countries, pet owners are still avoiding visits to veterinary clinics to have their pets routinely vaccinated and veterinary practices in many countries are still restricting their services to essential or emergency care only, so on the topic of routine vaccination:
“For adult dogs and cats regularly vaccinated with core modified live vaccines this should not be a problem. While Canine modified-live virus core vaccines (CDV, CAV and CPV2) and FPV vaccines. Should be given every 3 years, there is substantial evidence that protection is for much longer and probably for the lifetime of the pet. Feline core FHV-1 and FCV vaccines may also be given triennially to ‘low-risk’ cats or annually to ‘high-risk’ cats,however there is evidence that these vaccines also provide long-term protection to most cats. The more challenging situations in the face of COVID-19 are in implementing primary courses of core vaccination for puppies and kittens and maintaining vaccine immunity for non-core vaccine agents that are administered on an annual basis.”