Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Your Pet Getting COVID-19

Are you worried that your pet will get COVID-19? After seeing several reports in the news of animals testing positive—from tigers in a Bronx zoo to a pug named Winston—you might think that there’s cause for concern, but don’t panic just yet.

The CDC says that “there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” and the few studies that have come out so far seem to confirm this.

One study, for example, looked at 102 cats from animal shelters and pet hospitals in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated, and found that only 11 tested positive for antibodies of the virus, suggesting a low rate of transmission between felines, and from humans to cats. Furthermore, the researchers concluded “there is no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from cats to humans.”

Another study found that, while the disease does transmit efficiently among cats and ferrets, “it replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks.” In the case of Winston the pug, to date the only dog in the U.S. to have tested positive for the coronavirus, it’s believed that he picked it up from one of his owners, and he did not pass it along to the family’s other two pets, a cat and a dog.

In summation, the odds of your pet contracting the coronavirus are very slim, and there’s no reason to believe that they would pass it on to you. In most cases, animals that have tested positive have exhibited mild or no symptoms, and none are believed to have died from the virus.


Cases of Canine Lyme Disease on the Rise

No one likes finding a tick on their dog, especially since recent research shows that the number of cases of canine Lyme disease is on the rise throughout North America.

One study in particular from the Companion Animal Parasite Council found that, not only is the prevalence of the disease increasing in Northeast America, where it is most commonly found, but also it is spreading to other regions around the country such as Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee.

Published in the journal of Environmetrics, the study was “motivated by the rise in Lyme disease cases in the United States and, in particular, rising incidence in states not traditionally considered endemic.” It looked at more than 16 million Lyme test results of dogs taken between 2012 and 2016.

What this tells us—or, rather, confirms—is that ticks can be found just about anywhere, and they can appear at any time. Although in most parts of North America tick season begins around late March to early April and runs through to at least November, warm spells during the winter can also draw out the pesky insect, which is why most veterinary professionals recommend year-round protection and regular screening for pets.

It’s also important to do regular tick checks, especially if you’ve been in wooded or grassy areas. The CDC says that it can take up to three weeks for the signs of tickborne disease to present themselves after a bite. Places to check are around the ears and eyelids, under the collar and front legs, near the tail, and between the back legs. They can even hide in the spaces between the toes.

The good news is, Lyme disease is treatable, usually with four weeks of the antibiotic Doxycycline. Furthermore, according to PetMD, only 5-10% of affected dogs experience symptoms.

Story source: Materials by Veterinary Practice News.


A New Understanding of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

If there’s one silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we’ve been able to spend a lot more time with our pets. Conversely, experts predict that when life goes back to normal we could see an increase in the number of cases of separation anxiety in dogs.

As it is, it’s estimated that roughly 14% of dogs exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety, which include: excessive barking, urinating or defecating indoors, and chewing up household items whenever you leave them alone. The question is, how do we treat it?

Until now, separation anxiety has largely been viewed as a distinct diagnosis, but new research from the University of Lincoln suggests that it should instead be treated as a symptom of other underlying frustrations.

“[T]here is a danger that a syndrome such as ‘separation anxiety’ is seen as a diagnosis,” write the authors of the study, “when the relative significance of emotions such as fear, frustration and the panic associated with loss of an attachment figure may be fundamentally important to understand for effective treatment.”

The study, which looked at more than 2,700 dogs from over 100 breeds, identified four key forms of distress in dogs separated from their owners:

  1. Exit frustration: wanting to get away from something inside
  2. Redirected reactive: wanting to get to something outside
  3. Reactive inhibited: reacting to external noises or events
  4. Boredom

Rather than focus on the trigger of the unwanted behavior (i.e., the owner’s departure), this study recommends that animal behavior specialists address the root cause of the problem. This new understanding of the condition can be “used by clinicians to enable the implementation of more precise and thus less demanding treatment programs.”

In the meantime, if you’re worried that the amount of time you’re spending with your pet during lockdown will lead to issues down the line, experts suggest that you stick to a routine that is similar to the one you had before the pandemic, and allow your dog to have a bit of alone time each day.

Story source: Materials provided by University of Lincoln.