Coronavirus in cats and dogs – the results of large-scale studies

Scientists have done research and dotted the i’s – Covid is common in cats and dogs. But who infects whom, animal owners or vice versa?

As a rule, pets carry the coronavirus asymptomatically or mildly, the BBC says. The disease is often found in animals whose owners are infected. In the course of the study, swabs were taken from 310 cats and dogs from 196 houses where infected people lived. Six animals tested positive for the PCR test, another 54 had antibodies to coronavirus. Dr. Els Broens of the University of Utrecht says:

“If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with a cat or dog, just like with other people. The main concern is not animal health, but the potential risk that pets can act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population. “

To date, there is no evidence that dogs and cats can transmit the virus to their owners. But this does not mean that there are no such cases – it is difficult to determine at this stage of the pandemic, as long as the virus circulates easily between people.

Scientists from the University of Utrecht have used a mobile veterinary clinic in households in the Netherlands, where they have tested positive for Covid in the past two hundred days. Swabs and blood samples were taken from pets to determine the current infection and the presence of antibodies. The researchers presented the results at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases:

4.2% – the presence of a current infection;
17.4% are positive for antibodies.

At the same time, further observation showed that after getting rid of the infection (positive PCR), the organisms of dogs and cats continued to produce antibodies. Scientists assume that it is not animals that infect their owners, but rather that the virus is transmitted from humans. Dr. Broens says:

“We cannot say that there is a zero risk that owners will contract Covid from their pets. Now I see no scientific evidence for this. At this point, the pandemic is still caused by human-to-human infections, so we simply cannot detect it. It seems unlikely that pets will play a role in the pandemic. ”

Another large-scale study was conducted by the University of Guelph in Ontario (Canada). It determined that cats sleeping on the owner’s bed were at an increased risk of infection. 48 cats and 54 dogs from 77 households were tested for antibodies to Covid. Approximately 67% of cats and 43% of dogs living in the house tested positive, while animals from the shelter showed significantly less – 9%, and stray cats in the area – only 3%.

25% of pets showed symptoms of coronavirus, ranging from loss of appetite to shortness of breath. Most of the animals tolerated covid easily, but three had a severe form. The study authors argue that the biological characteristics of cats may make them more susceptible to coronavirus. Plus, pets love to sleep in bed by their owner’s face, which increases the risk of any infection.

Professor James Wood, Chair of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, says these 2 large-scale studies successfully complement existing evidence that pets can become infected with covid from their owners:

“The Dutch study is thoroughly conducted and shows that about 20% of exposed pets can be infected and that they will eventually get rid of the infection, like most people. Most reports state that this infection is asymptomatic. It also seems that the virus is not usually transmitted from dogs and cats to other animals or their owners. “

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