Vet college fielding calls from Islanders with questions about COVID-19 and pets

The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown has been getting calls from Islanders worried about their pets and COVID-19.

No indication the virus can spread to humans from dogs

If you are self-isolating, you should keep your pet with you. (Shutterstock)

The Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown has been getting calls from Islanders worried about their pets and COVID-19.

Many of these concerns stem from reports of a dog in Hong Kong that was found to have traces of coronavirus in its mouth and nose.

The dog's owner had tested positive for COVID-19.

While there's no indication the virus can spread to humans from dogs, some experts say there may be a need for isolating pets with owners who contract the virus.

Dr. Jason Stull, veterinary epidemiologist at the Atlantic Veterinary College said sick owners can transfer the virus to the outside of their pets' bodies. 

"When a person is for instance ill with COVID-19 they may cough, sneeze and little droplets come out of their nose and mouth, and those droplets can have the virus in them," he said. 

"A pet's fur for instance could get the virus on there and then they could serve for instance to move this virus to other households, other people."

That means if you are self-isolating, you should isolate your pet as well. Don't let your cat roam around free outdoors where people might be tempted to pat it, and don't send your dog to a kennel or doggie daycare.

Stull stressed that while the dog in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus, it did not show any sign of illness.

"The dog was healthy, has remained healthy," said Stull. "As a precaution they took the dog, they put it into quarantine and they tested the dog for the virus."

The situation with COVID-19 is changing rapidly, Stull said, and veterinarians are keeping track of the latest news. He recommended that pet owners also make an effort to stay aware of the latest news that could affect their animals.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Tony Davis


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