With no sign of the global coronavirus outbreak slowing, people have been asking if they should worry about their pets as well as their family and friends.In cities across China sales of face masks for dogs have soared , with one owner putting eye holes in a surgical mask and strapping it to their cat. This is despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying there is no evidence of pets being able to catch the new coronavirus strain named Covid-19 and pass it onto humans. There is a type that can be caught by dogs which it cannot pass to people. It has been recorded since the 1970s and is not linked to the new outbreak.
Today it emerged a group of greyhounds have been put into isolation in Australia after an outbreak of canine coronavirus was confirmed among dogs at a property at the state of Victoria.
Although it is not fatal it can cause gastroenteritis-type symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea in animals who pick it up. A second type of respiratory canine coronavirus was recorded in the UK in 2003.A Pomeranian from Hong Kong has tested ‘weakly positive’ for Covid-19 and has been put on a 14 day quarantine, but this could mean the dog was passively carrying infected particles on its body, rather than having the virus.
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Even if it has nothing to do with the current human outbreak, which has infected nearly 90,000 people and has killed more than 3,000, media attention has still made anxious pet owners fretting over how to care for their dogs.
Vaccinations are available in some countries but a cheaper and much more simple step people can take is regularly washing their hands before and after petting their animals.
It would be very easy to make contact with an infected dog or something it has touched in public, before bringing infected particles home to your furry friend.
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, canine coronavirus is mostly transmitted through orally through fecal matter, directly through infected dogs or through contaminated food bowls.
Just as humans have been urged to self-isolate if they suspect they have Covid-19, it is also advisable to keep your dogs inside if they show any symptoms or have been diagnosed.
PetMD.com recommends keeping kennels clean and hygienic at all times, to clean your dog regularly and to stop your dog coming into contact with feces, as much as possible.
Despite a lack of evidence that dogs can catch Covid-19, Public Health England still recommends keeping away from pets when self-isolating and to wash hands in between any contact. The WSAVA global veterinary community has also recommended wearing a face mask while caring for a pet belonging to a diagnoses patient, just to be on the safe side. Erring on the side of caution, a statement on the group’s website says: ‘Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, until we know more, pet owners should avoid contact with animals they are unfamiliar with and always wash their hands before and after they interact with animals.
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‘If owners are sick with COVID-19,they should avoid contact with animals in thei rhousehold, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.
‘If they need to care for their pet or be around animals while they are sick, they should wash their hands before and after they interact with them and wear a facemask. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.’
Leading scientists in Britain said it was ‘irresponsible’ to make the news of the Hong Kong Pomeranian’s infection public because it is likely the test may have picked up traces of the virus from the animal’s fur – rather than it’s bloodstream. Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘There is no evidence that the human novel coronavirus can infect dogs and it would be incredible for a virus to make so many species jumps in such a short space of time.
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‘We have to differentiate between real infection and just detecting the presence of a virus – these are very different.’
But there have been a number of plausible theories suggesting Covid-19 originated from bats, potentially in a laboratory in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Others have pointed to a seafood market in the city and have suggested illegal trafficking of illegal pangolins could have spurred the outbreak.
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