COVID-19 linked to heart inflammation in cats and dogs

Late last year, as the coronavirus surged across the United Kingdom, Dr. Luca Ferasin and his colleagues started noticing an uptick in patients with symptoms of myocarditis , or heart inflammation.The condition is a rare side effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, most commonly seen in men under 30. It can also be caused by infection with the virus itself.

But these patients weren’t humans; they were cats and dogs.

“These were dogs and cats that were depressed, lethargic, they lost appetite,” said Ferasin, a veterinary cardiologist at The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre in Buckinghamshire, England. “And they had either difficulty breathing because of accumulation of fluid in their lungs due to the heart disease, or they were fainting because of an underlying abnormal heart rhythm.”

Celebrate Your Pet at Every Age. Everyone loves a new puppy or kitten, says Dr. Becker. “They’re wildly kinetic, and humorous. An older pet is thinner, bonier. Their coats aren’t as soft, they might have bad breath.” But, like people, a pet’s needs change with age. They may be less active, preferring a leisurely stroll to a rollicking tug-of-war. “Our old retriever, who’s blind, still wants to retrieve.” Adapting to their changing needs will ensure your old friend remains a healthy and happy member of your family.

Before December, about 1.5% of pets referred to The Ralph were diagnosed with myocarditis, he said. But in the period between December and March, that number jumped dramatically, increasing to 12.5% of pets with confirmed myocarditis.Ferasin and his colleagues later found out that many of the pets’ owners had either tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms of the disease within three to six weeks of their pets becoming ill. That information, coupled with the fact that the timing coincided with the surge in cases driven by the alpha variant of the virus in the U.K., prompted the researchers to test the pets for SARS-CoV-2.

Make Your Dog Their Own Digging Box. If your dog loves to dig keep you can keep your garden safe by teaching them to use their very own digging box.

Ferasin detailed the rise in Covid-induced myocarditis cases in pets in a report published Friday in the journal Veterinary Record.

For International Dog Day, a veterinarian answers all your pet questions

Aug. 26, 202105:46

Of 11 animals, two cats and one dog tested positive for the alpha variant of the virus, and two additional cats and an additional dog tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. The remaining five animals tested negative for antibodies and the virus. None of the animals tested had symptoms of a respiratory infection or any other typical signs of COVID-19, but all of them had myocarditis, Ferasin said.

Buy a Kiddie Pool For Your to Keep Your Dog Busy. Does your dog enjoy the water? Keep your dog cool in the summer by using a plastic kiddie pool out in the yard. They’re inexpensive, too. I got ours for about 4 bucks at my local Meijer.

Because The Ralph only sees cardiac patients, the researchers can’t say whether dogs and cats may develop typical COVID-19 symptoms in other cases of infection.

It’s also unknown if veterinarians in general practices are seeing more cases of myocarditis caused by SARS-CoV-2, said Margaret Hosie, a veterinary virologist at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research.But maybe that’s because those vets don’t know it’s a possibility, said Hosie, who was not involved with the research. Reports like this will help general practice vets become aware of coronavirus-induced myocarditis in pets, so they’ll know to ask about COVID-19 exposure and test for it.

Use a Bright Colored Bandana On Your Dog During Hunting Season. Make sure both you & your dog stick out if you’re going to be out walking during hunting season. You can wear bright colors (orange is preferred), and you can help keep your dog safe by having them wear a bright orange bandana.

All of the pets in this study recovered after supportive treatment with supplemental oxygen and diuretics to help remove fluid from the lungs, with the exception of one cat with persistent abnormal heart rhythm, in which case the owners decided to euthanize the animal. None of the animals were treated with antiviral medications, Ferasin said.

There have been other cases of pet cats and dogs around the world testing positive for other variants of Covid, including the delta variant, but there’s no evidence to date that the other variants cause similar heart issues in pets. In addition, Ferasin said the rate of pets with myocarditis referred to The Ralph has returned to its pre-coronavirus level of 1 to 2 percent.

Teach Your Dog to “Find the Treats” for a Fun Game. Teach your dog to ‘find their treats’ by hiding them throughout the house. Simple nose work games are a great way to keep your dog busy & mentally stimulated. It’s Laika’s favorite indoor game by far. (Looking for some more indoor games? Here’s 33 simple ways to keep your dog busy indoors)

As a precaution, Ferasin and Hosie both advised pet owners with Covid to avoid contact with their pets, just as they would with other humans.

“If it is not possible to get someone else to look after their pet, they should consider wearing a mask when preparing their food to minimize the likelihood of infecting them,” Hosie said.

Several studies to date show the virus is transmitted from people to their cats and dogs, but not vice versa. “So, people shouldn’t panic” if their pets start showing signs of illness, Ferasin said.

Seeing spots? Or not… Dalmatian puppies are pure white when they are born and develop their spots as they grow older.

So far, it seems COVID-19 doesn’t cause severe problems in animals; most recover quite quickly, Hosie said.

Nonetheless, it’s important to study the illness in pets because it’s possible they could be a viral reservoir that allows the virus to mutate in a way that causes more severe disease in humans, she added.

“Obviously we’re focused on preventing human-to-human transmission just now, because that’s crucial,” she said. “But if we were to take our eye off other species, we could be storing up problems in the future.”

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Winery starts curbside dog delivery service during coronavirus outbreak

For a dog who loves to tear apart stuffed animals, make a durable activity ball with a Hol-ee rubber ball, scraps of fabric, and treats.

02:43