CDC Recommendations: If You Have Pets During Coronavirus Outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established best practices for households with pets. While there is only a small chance of human-to-pet transmission, these practices should still be followed if you would like to keep your cat or dog safe and healthy!

This is what you should do if you have pets and worry about transmitting coronavirus:

  • Do not allow people from outside the household to interact with your pet.
  • Do not allow cats outside during the outbreak.
  • Do not allow dogs to wander outside when not on a leash.
  • Do not use face coverings on your pets; these can affect respiratory response and actually harm your animals!
  • Avoid large gatherings and public areas.
  • When sick, do not care for your pet; ask someone else in the household who is not yet sick. When there is no other option but to care for your pet on your own, use a face covering for yourself. Wash hands with warm water and soap both before and after interacting with your animal.
  • Avoid close contact with your pet. Avoid being licked or cuddling.
  • Be sure to clean up pet waste quickly.
  • Contact your local veterinary clinic if you have additional questions about your pet’s health!

There might be a circumstance in which both you and your pet become sick at the same time. It’s important to know if you have the coronavirus infection/COVID-19. If you do, then avoid traveling to the veterinary clinic! You will only be spreading the virus and putting other pets and pet owners at risk.

Instead, call the clinic to ask about help. They will have their own best practices put into place and will know exactly how to help most efficiently. Some will want to video conference with you.

For additional information, check the CDC website which will be updated routinely as new information is learned: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/pets.html

Pet Tests Positive For Coronavirus; Dies After Quarantine

Authorities have assured pet owners that there is little evidence humans or pets can transmit the novel coronavirus to one another. Minute traces of coronavirus have been found after testing several Hong Kong pets, but scientists believe these traces did not represent infection. Instead, they were just the result of a virus floating around because the owner was infected. A number of blood samples were tested; each was returned from the lab with a negative result.

Regardless, the owner’s dog was placed in quarantine for two weeks before being returned. Shortly thereafter, the dog passed away. This has kick-started a number of conspiracy theories about pet to human or human to pet transmission, but none of them hold much weight. Sadly but understandably, the owner did not want her dog to be opened up in a lab post-mortem. No autopsy is scheduled.

The AFCD explained that the original “negative result indicates that there is not a strong immune response and that there are not measurable amounts of antibodies in the blood at this stage.”

Coronaviruses can mutate very easily, but the virus present in both pet and pet owner were genetically similar. The AFCD said, “The sequence results indicate that the virus likely spread from the infected persons and subsequently infected the dog.”

Many pet health organizations stress that the dog’s health was likely impacted only after being taken from its owner, and that the dog’s death should not represent cause for concern. The World Health Organization has also said that there is scant evidence that cats or dogs can help spread the virus.

The AFCD said, “This is, however, a rapidly evolving situation, and information will be updated as it becomes available. [But] … there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.”

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) said that it would urge members to thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water rather than panic about the potential of transmission. 

The Maine-based Idexx Laboratories has already tested and evaluated the blood results of thousands of cats and dogs and found no evidence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes the disease COVID-19.

Idexx spokespersons said, “The new test results align with the current expert understanding that the virus is primarily transmitted person-to-person and supports the recommendation against testing pets for the COVID-19 virus.”

Can My Pet Come Down With Coronavirus?

Viruses that can be transmitted from human to animal — and potentially back again — are some of the most dangerous on record. The Spanish flu of 1918 was a worldwide pandemic that infected half a billion people and killed tens of millions. This was a “swine flu” that was transmitted from pigs to humans. You may have also heard of the “bird flu.” When viruses go back and forth between human and animal hosts, they have time to mutate. 

Those mutations can make them much more dangerous.

And now we know that Fido can come down with coronavirus too! One Hong Kong patient discovered that their pet dog had come down with the virus. The pet dog was quarantined for two weeks, which is on par with the traditional human standard of care. Even so, officials warned against panic, saying that the tests had resulted in a “weak positive.” That means they cannot be certain that the virus can be transmitted from human to pet.

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that we don’t know whether or not pets can spread coronavirus because no evidence exists. The dog also didn’t show any symptoms. More tests will be conducted to see if the dog is actually infected or if he was just the victim of unfortunate environmental contamination. 

There have been around 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, most of which are in China’s Hubei Province. Officials have warned that the window for controlling the spread of the virus is rapidly closing — if not already shut. Around 3,000 people have succumbed to the virus so far. Many more deaths are expected as the virus makes its way to other countries around the world.

Trump has been thoroughly criticized for appointing Vice President Pence to lead the team organizing the United States response to the virus. Pence was responsible for causing an outbreak of HIV back home. Plus, Trump dismantled the team already put into place by the Obama administration.

There are worries that the actual number of cases of coronavirus might be much, much higher since most people won’t experience terrible symptoms. If the only people who seek treatment are those experiencing extreme symptoms, then we’ve already lost the ability to combat the spread of the disease.

More importantly, we also know that people can be reinfected with coronavirus — and that the virus might hit harder the second time around because of certain treatments that reduce a person’s immune response and put strain on the heart muscles. Governments around the world are beginning to restrict travel and close down operations in public places.

Litigation Against Pet Food Manufacturers Becoming More Common

We love our pets. That means we care about their health and well-being. Making sure they get enough exercise and eat the right kind of food is just part of the job. But taking care of them is more difficult than ever before because it is so much harder to trust those manufacturers who make their food. That’s why Blue Buffalo is under suit for a massive $5 million. Shannon Walton argues that Blue Buffalo’s recipes led her beloved dog Tucker to become diabetic.

If Walton has her way, others who have had similar pet issues will step forward and the judge overseeing the lawsuit will grant it class-action status.

The lawsuit is simple: It comes down to false advertising. Blue Buffalo says its formula is best becomes it was “inspired” by ancient wolf diets. But Walton says that the formula is actually chock full of carbs that no animal would have chowed down on when hunting. But those same words could create a problem for the case in court. The words “inspired by” aren’t meant to be taken literally, and that’s what the company will almost certainly argue.

There is an ingredient label, after all. And pet owners should take responsibility for knowing what their pets need and what they do not. 

Another issue the suit might run into is the presence of undefined variables. Bad food is one thing, but bad eating habits are another. Dark chocolate, a bowl of cereal, and even a glass of wine can all have health benefits when consumed in small amounts, but they become much more detrimental to health the more you heap on the plate. So how much was Tucker eating? That matters a lot more than the ingredients. 

Blue Buffalo may or may not need to change their manufacturing processes to make food healthier for pets. But the pet owners have a responsibility to know what they’re putting into the food dish, too.

So what do dogs need to eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Like most pet diets, it’s best to provide your pup with a combination of wet and dry food. This ensures that Sparky gets the right combination of nutrients instead of all empty calories. We usually think of dogs as carnivores, but that’s not true. Technically, they derive nutrition from plenty of other sources. They’re omnivores! Feeding them a combination of meat, fruits, veggies, and grains is the best way to keep them completely healthy.

For a better idea of how to feed your animals, try the Merck Veterinary Manual. It recommends serving sizes by dog weight and age, and will also provide plenty of examples of the best foods to put in their dish. No matter what you choose to feed your dog, make sure to read the ingredient label first!

Is It Normal To Have Conversations With Your Pet?

We all have that one friend who bizarrely — and publicly — holds a conversation with their cat or dog. Sometimes, even more bizarrely, that same friend will actually supply a response, because of course the pet cannot speak. Okay, it’s not that bizarre. We all do this ourselves, but most of us are smart enough to refrain from doing it within the public’s prying eye. It turns out that this type of behavior is completely normal.

But why do we do it?

Nevin-Giannini is a 31-year-old vocational trainer who owns a dog named Maverick. And he does exactly what so many of us do: He speaks both to, and as, his pet.

Giannini said, “I find that my dog’s personality, or the voice I give my dog, is somewhat sarcastic or critical, particularly of me or my girlfriend. His most common phrase is ‘You son of a bitch.’”

We don’t exactly have a lot of scientific data to help explain why people choose to perform as their pets, but at least one study was conducted in 2004 by a Georgetown University linguist, Deborah Tannen. She used family members, so it was hardly an impartial study. But she said that people seemed to imitate a pet for specific reasons, including: “effecting a frame shift to a humorous key, buffering criticism, delivering praise, teaching values, resolving conflict, and creating a family identity that includes the dogs as family members.”

She continued: “People make use of whatever’s in the environment to communicate with each other. The fascinating thing to me is how people find it easier to say things to each other if they don’t say it directly, but they say it in the voice of the dog. It introduces humor, and it becomes indirect. The dog’s criticizing you—not me.

In other words, we occasionally use the pretend voice of a dog or cat to say the things we’re not comfortable saying in our own skins. Is this a problem? Not really, according to Tannen, because any effective communication between friends and loved ones is good communication. This is especially true because pet owners often see their dogs and cats as members of the family.

But unsurprisingly, it doesn’t just stop with pets. People also make up voices and personalities for babies and stuffed animals, too, and mostly for the same reasons.

Tannen says, “the kinds of motives and feelings you might impose on the baby would be closer to what the baby might have, because it’s a person.”

What’s more noteworthy is that a lot of us perform these functions so habitually that, after a while, we don’t even notice!

Why Puppies Do Not Make Good Christmas Gifts

For those of us who grew up watching Disney, seeing Lady from Lady & The Tramp revealed as a Christmas present has seeped into our brains and normalized the idea of giving a puppy as a Christmas.

As cute as this may be, the practicality behind giving it as a Christmas gift is a bad idea, for several reasons.

First and foremost, puppies need to be trained. The wintertime is not the best time to be training your pet to go to the bathroom outside. Besides the fact that it is cold, precipitation such as snow, sleet, and hail can be dangerous not only for your new pup but also for you! If you plan on taking your dog outside to do it’s business, to keep them warm, you might need to put on a sweater. If there is snow on the ground, the dog will bring in with water leading to wetness everywhere. If your dog is too cold and/or scared to go out, this might lead to many accidents throughout the house. And since Christmas time is a busy year, a puppy needs to be interacted with. No leaving for New Year’s Eve!

Secondly, as adorable as the scene is in Lady and the Tramp putting a puppy in a tiny box only to be greeted to absolute chaos is traumatic for the animal! Within the first 12 weeks of the puppy’s life is when its brain develops its “fear or avoidance” reception. By overwhelming your puppy at Christmas time you are basically giving tiny Fido Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Your actions as it grows up can have damaging effects when he is an adult dog.

Thirdly, as much as your children want a dog, dog’s are a huge responsibility and cost a LOT of money. Expenses include and are certainly not limited to:

  • annual vet visits
  • required vaccinations
  • medications
  • normal check-ups
  • dental cleanings
  • medical care and surgeries as needed
  • good food
  • treats
  • toys
  • beds and crates
  • grooming tools
  • accessories like leashes, collars
  • poop bags
  • clothes
  • travel crates
  • dog walkers
  • doggy daycare, and boarding facilities or pet sitters for the times you travel without your pet

Unlike stuffed animals, puppies need constant attention and to be played with. They need to learn commands and have some socialization. They also will affect your lifestyle tremendously which is why a lot of Christmas gift puppies end up in shelters after people realize they don’t want the responsibility. And although these puppies have the chance of being adopted – 90% of shelter animals are euthanized!

Dog ownership is not the same thing as a toy. If you are serious about owning a puppy then you can wait until after Christmas and go to the shelters to adopt a puppy.

When Adopting A Pet, Be Wary Of Animal To Human Disease Transmission

In Norman, Oklahoma, veterinarians want you to know about the dangers of diseases that can affect humans and pets, or spread from one to the other. Sara Rowland works at a Main Street Veterinary Hospital in Norman. She recently encountered a newborn puppy suffering from leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can affect pets and pet owners.

Leptospirosis can result in a large number of symptoms, making it potentially difficult to diagnose. Some of those who are infected might present with no symptoms at all. But without immediate medical treatment, the bacterial disease can result in damage to the kidneys and liver, meningitis, or respiratory distress. Those who suffer in silence could face an early death.

Rowland explained the circumstances that led to her own diagnosis of the poor puppy: “In this instance, the pet was not eating well, vomiting and had a yellow tint that you could tell the liver was affected. It causes failure, definitely kidney and liver failure. The big thing I think with this particular you can vaccinate to prevent this disease.”

And perhaps you should. Pets can infect other pets, their owners, or vice versa.

Believe it or not, the anti-vaxxer conspiracy campaign is affecting pets and their owners as well. Rowland said, “For some reason, there’s a myth out there that this vaccine is really likely to cause reactions.”

But that’s not the case.

The bacterial disease is transferred through contact with an infected animal’s (or human’s) bodily fluids. Rodents and livestock can spread the disease as well as dogs. 

Those who contract the disease might present with fever, achy muscles, headache, vomiting, red or itchy eyes, diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, coughing, or jaundice.

And man-made climate change might increase the number of those who contract leptospirosis in the future. Outbreaks often occur directly after flooding or heavy rain. Stagnant pools are often contaminated after these events, and anyone who wades through them is put at risk. 

In these circumstances, take care not to drink from water sources that may have been contaminated during a rare weather event. Do not bathe in floodwater. Do not eat food if you are uncertain where it has been. Anything you drink should be treated beforehand. Be sure to take proper care of any open wounds, like cuts or abrasions. When venturing outside after flooding, wear waterproof boots and clothing. Keep all trash properly stored, and lock trash cans to avoid infestation or hungry critters coming around for food.

The disease is normally treated using antibiotics.

New Survey Finds Pets Almost As Possible As Biological Children

You know that old saying that being a parent is the best job ever? How about the common soundbyte that no matter how many children a parent might have, they can never be a favorite? One might think these (obviously skewed) beliefs extend to pets, but apparently that is not the case. A recent survey from I and Love discovered that more than a third of adults who have both pets and children actually prefer the pets to their own kids.

Wow.

2,000 pet owners took part in the survey, which also found that 78 percent of respondents said the pet is a member of the family. 67 percent openly admitted that their best friend was the pet. Interestingly, when asked why the pet is better than flesh and blood family, over half of pet owners said their pets are able to better understand their needs. Humans’ ability to listen to their best friends or significant others came in a distant second.

Of course the results of the poll should be taken with a grain of salt: more outrageous responses showed that nearly half of pet owners throw them birthday parties and a nearly equal number routinely spend less cash on groceries so that their pets can eat better. We’re not sure about those answers!

A different — and more serious — survey was conducted to determine pet owners’ thoughts on food safety. It turns out that a high number of people feed their pets raw food, including meat, that could hold dangerous bacteria. According to the safe study, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki in Finland found that human infections rarely occur as the result of a pet’s food, raw or not.

That doesn’t mean it will never happen. A recent outbreak of Salmonella poisoning spread through 35 states from pig ear treats that pet owners feed their dogs. 143 confirmed human infections were documented, but it’s also possible for pets to become sick as well. 

About 99.6 percent of households found no reason to report infections based on their pet’s raw food. That doesn’t necessarily mean that none existed — it just means that pet owners didn’t make the connection.

Researcher Johanna Anturaniemi from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine said, “It was surprising to find that statistical analyses identified fewer infections in households with more than 50 percent of the pet diet consisting of raw food. Furthermore, feeding pets raw salmon or turkey was associated with a smaller number of infections.”

New York Just Became The First State To Ban Cat Declawing

It’s a major victory for pet enthusiasts in New York State — no longer will their furry friends be subjected to the inhumane act of cat declawing. Not legally, anyway. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill that banned the procedure. It takes effect immediately. Those who opposed the bill likely thought it overreaching, ridiculous, or a danger to the well-being of their living room furniture set.

But what they might not know is that cat declawing can only be done by partially amputating toe bones in a cat’s feet. There are lifelong consequences to this: chronic pain results because declawed cats will end up straining joints or even their spine. Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris likened cat declawing to “removing a human finger at the knuckle.”

Not all cat declawing is banned. When the cat’s well-being is at stake and the health of the animal demands the procedure be done, it’s allowed.

The bill states: “Cats’ claws play an important role in various aspects of their lives. When a person has its animal declawed, usually in an attempt to protect furniture, they do fundamental damage to that animal both physically and in behavioral ways.”

Not all veterinarians agree with the bill or its findings. While the American Association of Feline Practitioners says scratching is a “normal feline behavior” and declawing should not be legal, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) said it “believes a veterinarian…should be permitted to make medical decisions after direct consultation with a client and a thorough examination of the patient and its home circumstances.”

There are alternatives available for pet owners who are tired of their cats’ scratching habits. They can leave scratching posts throughout the habitat. They can trim nails frequently to reduce the potential damage. They can put nail caps on the cat’s claws. Many of these actions may make it more difficult for a cat to climb — one of their favorite activities — but they’re still better than full declawing. 

Other states may soon follow suit now that the debate is live. Massachusetts lawmakers recently proposed a similar bill. The procedure is also banned in the UK, Switzerland, and Israel.

Claws are used to help the cat survive. While we don’t condone allowing cats to roam outdoors (because they’re little psychopathic serial killers), they are used for hunting. If your cat escapes outside, it needs the defense mechanism to help it survive. Claws are also used for climbing and defending, both of which are just as important.

The Most Illegal Pets People Actually Have

Not everyone is fluent in the English language. For example, do you know what the word “domesticate” actually means? Since so many people apparently have a hard time determining the difference between tame and wild, we thought we’d give you a short crash course. Domesticated animals can be kept as pets or brought up in a farm-like environment. Most often humans have taken these once-wild animals and bred away their most aggressive instincts over time.

For example, wolves are essentially just wild dogs! Millennia ago, some of these wolves developed a genetic predisposition that allowed them to notice how sticking by humans meant more food. Over time, we obtained man’s best friend. All modern day dog breeds came from the wolves of old.

Would you want a wolf for a pet? Hopefully not. Here are a few more completely illegal — and insane — pets that people actually keep at home.

  1. Bats. Although they might seem cute (upon a closer look) they can still do some damage or spread disease. Wild bats are a protected species, which means not only can you not own one in your own home, but you also can’t kill them. Same deal with rattlesnakes.

  2. Lions and tigers. Believe it or not, they’re only illegal in most states. Lions can be tamed, but accidents will always occur because at heart they are still wild animals. They aren’t man’s best friend for a reason.

  3. Skunks. If you’re not too afraid of the potential for stink, then you may have also noticed how adorable these little critters actually are. That’s obviously the reason some people try to obtain them. It’s possible to remove their stink glands surgically. Even if you find a veterinarian who will do it, you still probably can’t legally own a skunk in most U.S. municipalities.

  4. Alligators. Yes, that’s right: some people have gone off the deep end and actually want to own an alligator. While these creatures are perfect pets when they’re small, they all grow up eventually. That said, news stories about some idiot keeping one in his bathtub pop up all the time. Darwin usually takes care of that problem sooner or later.

  5. Hedgehogs. All right, we’ll admit hedgehogs are darned cute. But they’re still dangerous, especially to other household animals who love to harass them — like dogs who never seem to learn how to avoid spiky things. Ownership is forbidden in many places, but you can still get your hands on them in certain parts of the country. On top of that, there’s a lot of debate about whether or not they make good pets. We’ll leave it up to you to make that decision — but we recommend keeping wild animals where they belong (in the wild).