Experts say people with covid should limit their contact with pets

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Bad news for COVID patients. Well, I guess *more* bad news for them – they shouldn’t find comfort in their furry friends as they recuperate. A new study out of Canada shows that pets are susceptible to contracting the virus if their owners have it. And the news seems to be worse for cats than dogs. While a pet dog will develop some symptoms, research suggests they will be mild and that it really doesn’t matter how long the dog spends with their owner. But cats have much worse symptoms, including trouble breathing. Plus, the amount of contact with their person directly affects the likelihood of them coming down with COVID.

Cats and dogs kept as pets are more likely to contract COVID-19 as compared to their stray counterparts, according to new research.

For the study, the group collected and tested 48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 different homes where there had been a positive COVID-19 case in the nine months prior.

Researchers then looked at those results and compared them to those of 75 dogs and cats living in an animal shelter and 75 stray cats that had been seen at a veterinary clinic.

According to the data collected, 67 percent of pet cats and more than 43 percent of pet dogs tested positive for antibodies — a sign of past COVID-19 infection — compared to 9 percent of canines and felines from the animal shelter.

When looking at the number of cats infected, the findings then lowered to 3 percent for the stray cats.

In general, most cases seen within the dogs looked at were mild, with the most common symptom being the loss of appetite, the study found.

More than a quarter of the cats, meanwhile, exhibited runny noses and had difficulty breathing, per the study. Three cats also developed severe symptoms.

Within the study, researchers also discovered that time a pet owner spent with their canine companion did not have an effect on the pet getting COVID-19, while it was the opposite for cats.

The more time cats spent with their owners who contracted COVID-19, the more likely they were to be infected, the study said, also singling out cats who slept on their owner’s bed as having a higher risk of obtaining the illness.

[From People]

When we were feeling poorly as kids, our family dog would snuggle with us as we lay prone on the couch or wherever. My mom would say, “that’s good, he’s soaking up all the sickness.” It was just a momism, but after reading this, I’m feeling bad about what we might’ve subjected them too. I’m curious about why cats would be more susceptible than dogs. I wonder if that’s an insight into the virus itself? The stray vs. pet numbers don’t surprise me considering the cat’s chances increase with exposure to their sick owner. I imagine strays don’t spend as much time around infected folks. The lead author on the study, Dr. Dorothy Bienzle, said the way to protect your pets if you do come down with the virus is to mask up and try to avoid contact. I know that will be hard, they won’t understand why you are kicking out of the bedroom suddenly. Poor little wubbums.

I would like to see more studies on this, though, because they are currently training dogs to smell for COVID. I know this article said dogs’ symptoms were mild but I’m not comfortable intentionally endangering animals if we know they can contract the virus. Maybe the sniffing is too fleeting for it to be a concern? I don’t know, but I hope they do more research before we put dogs in every airport to find out.

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Photos credit: Sam Lion and Cottonbro on Pexels

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16 Responses to “Experts say people with covid should limit their contact with pets”

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  1. tempest prognosticator says:

    Those cats! That dog! How adorable.

  2. lanne says:

    So it’s not enough for these COVID deniers who get infected to infect and possibly kill their family members, friends, and coworkers. They can harm and maybe even kill their pets as well. Beautiful.

    I just saw a video of a guy in a hospital who had been hooked to a ventilator saying he wouldn’t get the vaccine and that he’s glad that he hadnt gotten the vaccine before. He was speaking from his hospital bed.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Ianne, I saw that idiot as well. What an entitled moron! He is willing to subject himself again to the coronavirus and place more stress on the healthcare system due to his ignorance! I think that people who are like him, should have to pay a penalty tax for stupidity. We should actually have a stupidity tax in this country.
      And Bezos should pay more than a 1.1% for his personal wealth. It was released after his egotistical comment about thanking Amazon staff and customers for making his dream of his dick rocket come true.

  3. Lizzie Bathory says:

    It does seem weird that cats are more likely to get sick. I wonder if there’s any connection to the very common feline herpes virus that can cause respiratory issues in cats? It’s very contagious in shelters & multi-cat households but can often lie dormant for years in cats who were exposed.

    Yet another reason to be fully vaccinated & to keep masking! I don’t want to make my kitties sick.

  4. Keats says:

    But the only good part about being sick is having a pet snuggle on your lap on the couch :(

  5. Saartjie says:

    I just took my cat to the vet yesterday, we all caught covid 3 weeks ago and I was trying to convince the vet that kitty had it as well, damn I wish I had seen this research before the appointment! She sleeps between our pillows on our bed, so she got a good dose of virus, and now she is sniffly, has lost some weight and is a bit pathetic generally.

  6. Esma says:

    Now I’m wondering if I have my dog COVID back in February when I had it 😔 I hope not. He seemed totally fine the whole time… ? I’m vaccinated now at least so there’s that

  7. SarahCS says:

    I’d like to see someone try and tell my cat this.

    For the record I am totally on board with doing anything I can to keep him safe in all circumstances, but he has a strong aversion to any closed door and LOVES when I’m sick so that he has someone to cuddle with (he’s on the bed pretty much every night normally). He tends to sleep by my legs/feet so hopefully there’s less chance that I’ve passed him anything previously. I think having to deal with him scratching on the door and yelling at me to let him in would be a significant challenge. I’d better keep doing everything I can to avoid covid!

    • sa says:

      “I’d better keep doing everything I can to avoid covid!”

      My cats are one of the big reasons why I keep wearing a mask even though I’m fully vaccinated (not the only reason, but a big one). Even if I won’t get sick, it’s not worth the risk that I can carry it and infect them. We’ve known for a long time now that cats and dogs can get covid, and that cats will get sicker. One of my 2 cats always greets me at the door and since covid started I won’t pet her or pick her up until I wash up and change clothes, because it’s not worth the risk. Just last week, she stopped greeting me at the door and I’m so sad to think it may not start again once covid is completely gone.

  8. Case says:

    I’ve been hyper aware of this the entire time; there were early reports of cats and dogs catching it when this first started and it freaked me out. I’m my cats’ only caregiver so I don’t even know how this would work if I got sick; that’s why I’m doing everything I can not to!

    • Kebbie says:

      Yeah, this study may be new, but cats getting it is definitely old news. There was one case of a cat that had quickly gone downhill after the owner had covid. They took it to an emergency vet and x-rays showed blood clots in its lungs. It died later that day and the vet said they’d never seen anything like it. There were those tigers at some zoo that contracted it from one of their caretakers as well.

      I kept my distance from my cat when I had it and fortunately he never developed any symptoms. I just had a sore throat and only knew because my test came back positive, but if I had a cough or anything like that I’d have kept him isolated in a different room and just put food in once a day. Maybe rotated litter boxes or cleaned them with a mask on.

  9. Amy T says:

    If there’s a medical ethicist out here, I’d love to hear their take on the idea of training dogs to detect Covid when they could be at risk, particularly given their inability to consent.

  10. sassafras says:

    I had a friend whose cat died suddenly last year and she asked the vet for an autopsy, to see what she might have missed. The vet said he couldn’t say for sure, but the cat’s lungs looked like all the photos of covid lungs (I might be missing some details here because I didn’t press too much.) She lived with all her young adult children and no one ever got sick with Covid but asymptomatic spread could have happened, too. I never told anyone about this story because… it was just an added layer for people to worry about. I mean, who can stop asymptomatic spread, really. And to cats? So thanks Canadian scientists for making us all freak out some more.

  11. Just Me says:

    Experts. Who exactly are they? And where can we read the results of this study? Scaremongering like this is the reason why people are abandoning their pets in shelters. And those are the lucky ones.