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Covid 19 Patients Warn of Pets And How To Care Your Pets During Pandemic

The Ministry of Health has cautioned Covid-19 patients not to come into contact with pets as there's evidence the novel coronavirus is capable of infecting animals.

Most infected pets tend to be asymptomatic or display mild Covid symptoms. Illustrative image

In guidelines issued last weekend on how to take care of Covid-19 patients at home, the Ministry said patients and their family members should neither come into contact with pets, nor let them come into contact with people and other animals.

It said reports around the world say animals are contracting Covid-19 after coming into contact with infected humans and their caretakers. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the chance of animals spreading the coronavirus to humans is low, humans are capable of spreading the virus to other animals, especially with those that they come into close contact with.

Some animals that are susceptible to being infected by the novel coronavirus are dogs, cats, civets, deer and some primates, reports say, according to the vnexpress.

Covid 19 Patients Warn of Pets And How To Care Your Pets During Pandemic

In the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, health experts recommend people to be careful when taking care of pets. Illustrative image

Besides taking precautions regarding pets, people should also prevent infection while receiving and purchasing food and other necessities by disinfecting their hands, avoiding contact and keeping a safe distance from others, the guidelines say.

Pets can catch Covid from owners, study suggests

Covid is common in pet cats and dogs whose owners have the disease, research suggests.

According to the BBC, Swabs were taken from 310 pets in 196 households where a human infection had been detected.

Six cats and seven dogs returned a positive PCR result, while 54 animals tested positive for virus antibodies.

"If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people," Dr Els Broens, from Utrecht University, said.

"The main concern is not the animals' health but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population."

The authors of the study said no evidence of pet-to-owner transmission had been recorded to date but it would be difficult to detect while the virus was still spreading easily between humans.

Most infected pets tend to be asymptomatic or display mild Covid symptoms.

Most infected pets tend to be asymptomatic or display mild Covid symptoms. Photo: BBC

The results were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases:

  • 4.2% showed evidence of a current infection
  • 17.4% tested positive for antibodies

Follow-up tests showed all the PCR-positive (polymerase chain reaction) animals cleared the infection and went on to develop antibodies.

The researchers say the most likely route of virus transmission is from human to animal, rather than the other way round.

How to Care for the Family Pet During COVID-19

A woman carries a dog at the Vietnam Dog Show in HCMC, December 2017. Photo by VnExpress

This is based on UK government guidelines.

Advice for Cat Owners

The most important rule for pet owners is to avoid pets interacting with people who live outside of your households.

Staying Home: Cat owners specifically have been advised to keep their felines indoors as often as possible in order to limit their contact with individuals outside the household.

Maintain Hygiene: Making sure both you and cat keep clean is essential to staying healthy. If your cat must leave the house due to any circumstance, you must wash your hands well before and after handling your pet. Frequent showers and maintaining your pets hygiene is also recommended, especially if they leave the house.

Play Time: This does not mean that your cat should stop getting its exercise. Play time is still vital and important to make sure your cat remains in shape, and you should keep your cat active within the house with toys and games.

Healthy Diets: It’s important to remember not to overfeed our pets during lockdown. Too many treats or unhealthy portions of food can put their health at risk! Maintaining your pet’s regular diet is essential to keeping them eating and feeling well.

Advice for Dog Owners

Socially Distanced Exercise: Since you are allowed to leave the house for exercise, it is advised that you combine this time with walking your dog on a leash. Staying away from crowded public areas such as dog parks is essential, and make sure to keep yourself and your dog at least 2m away from others. If someone else is responsible for walking your dogs, make sure they are taking all precautions as well.

Maintain Hygiene: Keeping your dog clean is important to staying healthy. Dogs can be allowed just outside your house or into the garden to relieve themselves.Clean your dog often, especially after coming back from outside, and make sure you wash your hands before and after interacting with your dog.

Play Time: For some dogs, one short walk a day is not enough exercise. Make use of your time at home and keep your dog active and going during the day. If you have a garden, allow your dog to run around and play to get proper stimulation.

Healthy Diets: It’s important to make sure your dogs don’t gain too much weight from the lack of walks. Keep your dogs usual healthy diet and avoid giving too many treats to keep them in shape.

Trips to the Vet

It’s advised that you avoid unnecessary trips for grooming or check-ups while social distancing regulations are imposed as this is considered non-essential travel. Dog grooming servicesare expected to be able to pick up and deliver your pet to you. However, if visits to your veterinary are necessary, make sure call your vet for advice and evaluation before heading to the clinic.

Tarah Nguyen

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